Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ten rules for students and teachers

These 10 rules for students and teachers were written by Sister Corita Kent in 1968 and popularized by composer John Cage. If you are a human being and not a machine, you will know that you are both student and teacher rolled into one body, and these rules would work for you, too.
  • RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.
  • RULE TWO: General duties of a student: Pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
  • RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher: Pull everything out of your students.
  • RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.
  • RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined: this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
  • RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.
  • RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
  • RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.
  • RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.
  • RULE TEN: We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.
  • HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything. It might come in handy later.
I repeat rule six for added emphasis. "Nothing is a mistake. There's no win and no fail, there's only make." Whether its music you make or poetry, or noise, or in the wood shop, something beautifully useful or just sawdust, you are thence an active participant in make and are shifted in nature from idleness to creativity.

Today in the wood shop, two of my lower elementary school students arrived angry with each other and so we spent the first few minutes of class as the children worked through the problem of hurt feelings and raw emotion. Finally, the boy whose feelings were hurt began work on the lathe for the first time. Gradually, his feelings of control as he applied the tool to the wood, began to work on his emotions, too. He looked up from his work and spoke across the room, "I'm sorry." The other boy said, "I'm sorry, too." The sincerity of the moment was palpable. It is truly amazing that when emotions take charge of the body, the engagement of the hands has the power to steer the emotions back into control. It was yet another profound expression of the wisdom of the hands.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Anonymous4:44 AM

    I think you mean Composer John Cage? :) Great blog!

  2. What you're describing might work well for adults, too.