Show an Affirming Flame: It’s Not The Real World and That’s a Good Thing

audenOn the last day of the year, time to show an affirming flame as another low dishonest decade ends. I’ll leave all the best and worst and top ten lists to others, but merely remark – that for all the base mendacity in the real world, life in school remains a place of joy and possibility.

The words and phrases in italics are from W.H. Auden who wrote them as the world was sliding into war and people were uncertain and afraid. He was preoccupied with an enlightenment driven away, and a world of habit forming pain, mismanagement and grief.

That was 1930’s and the real world.

But that decade also saw the opening of PDS – a school founded in hope and built on the belief that children deserve a focus on what matters most.

Back then, those founding parents and educators wanted a school where children would be able to uncover their unique aptitudes and abilities. They wanted a school where children would learn the habits and attitudes of lifetime learning and ethical action.

School is not the real world. And that is how it should be for that world is all too often unstructured, unsafe, chaotic and bereft of coherent values. School is not like that. It is, however, the best preparation to thrive in that world and make a positive contribution.

The anecdotal evidence on this is quite clear. Perhaps in 2010 there will be time to actually get the data.

Happy New Year everyone.

Featured photo: Joshua Hibbert

An authorized posting of the original text may be found at Poets.Org

For commentary on the poem, Auden’s relationship to it and the circumstances of its composition: Wikipedia.

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