May 11, 2010

When learning becomes poetry

Filed under: education,learning,teaching — Candace Hackett Shively @ 10:20 am

I can only imagine what a teacher in Colorado must have felt as she watched this senior’s “last lecture” in her classroom.  A few times a year– maybe a few dozen in a career– a student takes your breath away with such wisdom and depth that you want to open the windows and yell to the world. Watch a high school the next time you drive past and look for teacher heads popping out the windows to say, “THIS is it. THIS is the power of minds that I learn from. THIS is richness of thought. EVERYONE should hear this kid!”  It doesn’t happen often enough. Luckily for one teacher in Colorado, a blog post of a simple video opens the school windows for all of us fortunate to listen. She says nothing because she does not need to. Kyle says it.

Kyle teaches us about thought and connection and irony and waste in our classrooms. Mostly, he teaches us the poetry of learning. I do not mean simply that he has composed poetry. I mean that he helps us to feel the nuance and richness and layering of learning as a poem itself. The few who have commented on his video have requested a transcript. I want to read and re-read it, still hearing his voice and watching his hands poke through his pouch-pocket as he speaks. I also want to share what he says with everyone from President Obama to every disgruntled eighth grschool.jpgader who grimaces and scuffs his way through school. I want to let Kyle spread the poetry of learning as I could not possibly say it. And I want people to listen to him. Simply sending the link or clicking to “share” does not open my windows wide enough to overcome the noise of passing traffic. But they should stop and notice. This kid gets it and tells us what he gets…more than we get ourselves. He makes us want to get more —  from ourselves and from our schools.

So I hope that the small audience for this post will go beyond click-sharing Kyle’s last lecture. Open your windows and tell the world. This is the poetry of learning.


  1. As the mother of this young poet, I am moved by the comments people have left. As he graduates tomorrow morning I can’t imagine a more wonderful gift for Kyle. I fell across this poem he wrote a few years ago and sat and wept as I understood his frustrations like never before. I have blessed with a child who has shares his passion and compassion for the world. I am blessed with the gift of having others hear his words. Kyle’s last lecture in reality, is a new beginning.

    Comment by Jenny Sutherland — May 19, 2010 @ 10:35 pm

  2. Congratulations to Kyle (and his mom) on your COMMENCEMENT. Echoes of your poem will continue in far off places as you move on to new places of your own.

    Comment by Candace Hackett Shively — May 20, 2010 @ 6:51 am

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