Yep. A blog post titled, Paper. What seems like a common word with a common definition and purpose… but, is it really? I am being 100% for real… EVERYONE in the world has touched paper. As soon as you are born, they press your feet and fingers against paper. Throughout life, you touch paper on a daily basis. So often, we take things that are a part of our EVERYDAY life for granted.
It wasn’t until this month while I was in a 1st grade classroom at one of the schools in our district that I really began thinking about Paper and its significance. I handed the class a piece of copier paper and said, “Create.” The students just looked at me and then began asking me questions. I refused to answer any of their questions and reiterated that they were to create. Then, the magic began. From hats to kites, from airplanes to masks, from snowflakes to windsocks, these firsties were creating. But here is the deal… this wasn’t the first time I had proposed this task to students, actually it was probably the 10th time, but the first time in a primary classroom. The majority of 3rd/4th/5th grade students created drawings on their paper or paper airplanes. So, what is the big deal?
The Potential of Paper
Paper. The “littles” understood the potential that the piece of paper had.
They saw the paper as a blank canvas. They are not marred by lines on their paper creating “boundaries”. They saw the paper as an opportunity to play. They are not restricted to paper symbolizing work. They saw the paper as a chance to be different. They are not worried with the “Be-the-Jones'” mentality.
This mindset inspired me to look at paper in a whole new way. Paper has the potential to be anything we want it to be. The only limitation is our mindset. It is often said that the idea of freedom is scary. You want to test this idea out… hand a room full of teachers a piece of paper and tell them to “Create”. What if I were to challenge you with the same task? Would you see the potential of paper?
The Power of Paper
Paper. “Littles” are encouraged to explore; see things for more than what they are physically or what they are meant for.
Have you ever thought about how tasks are defined by paper? If I say… draw a line plot… what type of paper do you think of? If I say… create a sketch… what type of paper do you think of? If I say… write an essay… what type of paper do you think of?
What if we cross those and wipe out those associations? What if in school we stopped using wide-ruled or college ruled paper for taking notes… and gave them copier paper? I wonder what students would do… would they write in straight rows? Would they draw lines? Would they draw pictures? I know what they would do… they would all do “them!” Isn’t that what we want… we want them to discover who they are? Paper has stigmas and stigmas are powerful. Which begs me to ask the question, “What stigmas are holding you back from finding your true self?”
The Permanence of Paper
Paper. The “littles” didn’t see a piece of paper as a chance to make a mistake.
As soon as a piece of paper is marked on, folded, or torn, it will never be the same again. We proceed with caution because we know and understand that idea from experiences. This holds us back from attempting to do the extraordinary. Guess what? There is more paper out there! So, why play it safe and proceed we caution?
Is this not life? Everything we do will be written in our life journal or make a mark on our life canvas. Is it permanent? Yes. So, what do we do? We play it safe and proceed with caution trying to avoid the risks. But what if we were to do the opposite? What if we were to embrace life, taking risks, taking a chance… will there be more opportunities to add to our life journal or canvas? Mistakes are going to happen. Embrace them. Look at them as a chance to do something different. The permanence of paper is part of life.
Paper is more than paper. We have so much to learn from the “littles” as they have innocence to the world, eagerness to be creative, and the willingness to step-up and try. We should put the “littles” lens on and see the power, the potential, and the permanence of paper.