The piece of cardstock seemed to mock me. I felt my tension headache crushing my temples. All around me, everyone was happily folding away, making these elegant boxes, and yet here I was, with the lid still not formed. And when my neighbor, a quiet young mother from Saudi Arabia, leaned over and said, “Look, you just tuck it this way,” I gritted my teeth and declared, “I’m just not good at crafts.” That’s when I realized, I was “gripped in the tyranny of now,” as Carol Dweck describes in the below TEDTalk:
You see, although in the past I had always patted myself on the back for having a growth mindset, by believing that something difficult was out of my reach because I wasn’t good at it meant that I had a fixed mindset about making objects with my hands. So I set out to change. I accepted the power of yet. I wasn’t good at making origami boxes, yet.
For the first day of class, I plan to share this story with my students and invited them to feel the power of yet. We’ll be listening and discussing the above talk, as well as beginning the process of our own origami boxes. By making an object with our hands and minds, we will struggle together.
As an interesting aside, another teacher and I got in a passionate discussion about the difference between I can’t do this and I don’t want to do this. While it is true that I really didn’t want to make crafts in my composition theory class this summer, in part because at the time I couldn’t figure out the purpose of such tasks, I realize now that there is a deep connection between feeling one can’t do something and not wanting to do it at all. Embrace the struggle!
Image attributed to https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20130721231050-659753-the-power-of-the-word-yet