Wednesday, November 16, 2005


"There are people with all sorts of enthusiasms and creativity which are not often enough made use of or even recognized because the tendency is not to rock the boat but to keep on doing things the way they have always been done."
- Frederick Buechner

Emotional release is an intrinsic and necessary part of the learning process.

Young people are using this tool--or trying to--all the time. And every time they are able to use the tool of emotional discharge as part of the learning process, every single time--they make incredible gains and strides in what they are able to learn.

It's okay that school is not a good place to cry, (at least not yet in our society) but it's not okay to discount or invalidate that crying--and other forms of emotional discharge such as laughing, perspiring, trembling, raging--is part of a natural healing process. Having a so-called "fit" is often a useful part of learning something new.

Why do I care about this? Well, for one the shutting down of emotional discharge is in the way of completely eliminating racism. A major oppression does not beget liberation.

I'm asking you to do something. Go over your life with a new focus. Look back at the times you had a big cry or blow up. Now, what happened next? You will find a distinct pattern. You may not have had an aware listener to give you a hand--someone to stay close and not get confused. Even so, what I'm suggesting is that letting out emotions can FREE UP YOUR THINKING IN THAT AREA!! It doesn't mean you turn into a whining sniveling pathetic puddle. It means you take time as a discipline to allow yourself and the young people in your life to let out emotions in an appropriate time and place. Not so people can flock around you with concerned expressions on their faces offering kleenex in hopes you'll stop immediately. No. So a person of your choosing can be relaxed and even delighted as you release the very stuff that's keeping us all from thinking rationally.

This can be set up in schools--and already has been around the world--for students to peer-counsel eachother at periods during class where they feel stuck in their learning. One person is the listener and a five minute timer is set. The speaker can emote or just talk. Then they switch and the listener is now the talker. This simple tool is profound and far reaching in its ability to create space for learning and to allow one's own innate intelligence to flourish.

Longer periods of time can be utilized in one's home with parents or after school time when it will not distract or disrupt the school's resources. I'm the first one to acknowledge that the ratio of adult attention to young people is not adequate and I don't expect schools to take on more roles without added support. This tool actually supports teachers.

So, even if the five minute "minis" are not allowed in school a simple response rather than, "Calm down! Don't cry" could be, "Gee it's so smart of you to want to get that out. I'm sorry I can't listen to you right now and things are not set up for you to have support with this right now, but I just want you to know I'm glad you're getting that out right now. I need to be over here with the rest of the students but is there a friend you can ask to sit with you for a few minutes?"

A human being is able to make leaps in development after a "session" whether it is a planned session you've set up for yourself with a listener who has consented to listen and stay close or whether it's a blow up that you sort of unconsciously set up for yourself. (The prior is what I'm suggesting for adults--young people need to have a safe place for the latter.)

So why do I see very intelligent and sensitive people in the educational system glaze over or attack me when I bring this up?


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