The Awakening

The first book I ever read in a high school literature course was The Awakening by Kate Chopin.  Revolutionary as it was in its time, I was bewildered that this work was not a staple in every core high school literature class. I was blown away by the intensity and existential meaning in the book as well as everything I experienced in this semester long class. In fact, this class was the only literature class I took in high school and I didn’t experience it until my senior year. This was because in Junior year, while my peers were busy studying the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald I was hunched over in the corner of the AV lab, ceaselessly editing Breaking Binary my first What’s the Story VT project, and (unbeknownst to me) the beginning of the end of my old ideas of what learning really is.

With What’s the Story came my addiction to deep critical thinking and meaningful discussion about the state of our world. I suddenly was constantly engaging my friends and family in deep thought and discussion on the philosophy of gender and the impact of our own implicit biases and actions on our identities and the others around us. I could talk about it forever! I was enamored. Now, I never took AP biology, or AP chemistry. I honestly couldn’t tell you the difference between calculus and algebra but the deep skills I acquired while under the influence of the What’s the Story magic is worth more than any AP credit or SAT score.

Nonetheless, I was still a high school student within the institution of the American public schooling system. The wave of relief I felt after graduating high school was unlike anything else, but accompanying this relief was a vivid sense of grief that is hard to explain. I had prepared myself to leave behind this institution that had lead me down so many amazing paths, and given me incredible opportunities to grow as a learner and as a human. I thought I was prepared to let go of the security blanket that this institution held for me. What I wasn’t prepared to mourn was the loss of guided intellectualism.  All of a sudden I felt as if I was being deprived of the opportunity to think critically and analytically about aspects of history, culture or literature. My whole world slowed. I am not headed to college next year, I do not have an immediate continuation of institutional security blankets to hold. I am taking a whole year before heading into another institution to explore myself, the workforce, and the world. I realized that I’m not really sure how to think. No, really! All of a sudden I feel like I’ve lost my ability to think critically. Not lost like totally gone forever lost, just lost like it’s a little bit foggy and I can’t really see my feet but they’re definitely still there, kind of lost. What I’m trying to say with all this is that I have yet again another opportunity to change the way learning manifests for me. I’ve found myself at yet another cosmic shift. Similar to my entry point with What’s the Story but this time I’m exiting the wind tunnel and taking a deep breath.

When I got the reminder for Next Gen, it felt like a saving grace. Finally, an opportunity for guided critical and analytical thinking!! Finally! It’s been almost four weeks and I am starving for a learning curve.

Eva Rocheleau

4 Responses to “The Awakening

  • Paul Barnwell
    4 years ago

    Hey Eva,
    This is a powerful reflection–thanks for sharing! Interesting idea about the loss of guided intellectualism–it seems obvious to me that you’ve been empowered in the past few years to be able to continue being a deep thinker with out without the structure of WTS or similar programs. I’ll look forward to hearing from you as this project unfolds..

  • Akwelle Quaye
    4 years ago

    It was nice to read your thoughts and reflections! I cannot wait to see what work you come up with next!

  • Tom McKenna
    4 years ago

    Dear Eva,
    What a thoughtful post. I wish I had more time to respond, but at the moment I want to capture your telling phrase, “my whole world slowed.” Isn’t that what Rex did for us yesterday (in just five minutes)? It seems like you’ve discovered a deep level of passion and interest and commitment that makes time slow because, maybe you give it so much of your attention?
    Anyway, love the phrase and all of the thinking leading up to it. I think this slowing is a mindset we could use more of in my world, at least.
    Thank you.

  • Ceci Lewis
    4 years ago

    Wow! My heart is full with the wonder of your learning and the ways in which you describe it. Having a community of learners with which to have these deep conversations is not only important, it is essential for producing change within ourselves and our communities. NGLN is the vehicle to take you to the next stop along your journey. I am sure of that. I want to be in on the ride, too! Will you pick me up and we can travel together? This is what I envision when I think about the network – and yes, we are the network!

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