The flair moment came as I thought more about an article I read yesterday called, “Redefining Education: Cultivating the Soul”, written by Thomas Moore (who happens to have been a monk, a professor, psychotherapist, and musician). He writes this:
“There are many items we assume can’t be taught that will simply fade away if we don’t teach them: manners, civility, good language, mature love, good art, self-awareness and reflection, intelligent reading, responsible travel, care of one’s home and belongings, a sense of the beautiful, intelligent spirituality and empathy for our fellow citizens on the planet. This is a small part of a much longer list.”
All morning, I’ve been thinking about Moore’s words. How am I cultivating these traits in others (and myself) as a parent and as a teacher? As I help students prepare professional materials (resume, cover letter, mission statement), I always remember what they report was most useful of all. It’s not the PowerPoint slides about effective resume design or how to format a cover letter. It’s the week I take to teach them these three things:
1. The art of Conversation
2. The art of Conflict Resolution
3. The art of Community Organizing
When we discuss and practice these things, we know we tap into a lost art form of living well in community. Students who know how to engage others in conversation, how to manage disagreements, and how to gather folks together to solve problems succeed more in work and in life. They know this, and time proves it.
The lost art of living vibrantly in community needs revival. This week, I’m reminding my family how to ask good questions in conversation (What was that like for you? Would you tell me more?), resolve conflict well (listen, summarize, find common ground), and organize community events to examine and confront problems in our community (fitness, education, environment). Perhaps these three skills will capture the essence of Moore’s hopes for education. College students find them life-enhancing and often life-changing. I know my family will too.