Every spring, on that first truly warm day when I notice the students looking longingly out the windows at the sun, I take my classes on a “sound walk.” This is a silent walk through the forest, listening deeply to the sounds around us. The younger students listen hard to identify human-made sounds versus natural sounds, while the older kids reflect on prompts that we discuss back in the classroom. Last year one of the prompts was: What might you hear in 100 years? Their answers were vulnerable and shocking:
“Nothing, because it will all be gone.”
“The only sound will be the ocean because the sea will have risen and buried Bowen.”
“There won’t be any human-made sounds because we’ll all be extinct.”
What was immediately clear was that many of these kids were scared. They wanted to talk about their fears, and ask questions, and not feel alone. I realized that, in a sense, these students were asking for direction. They needed hope. And I also realized that part of my responsibility as an educator is to help give that to them.
As a mom, I’ve worked hard to have open conversations with my kids about the kinds of things that were verboten in my own childhood. Growing up, there were few opportunities to have frank conversations about difficult topics with the adults in my life. I realized that day in class that the climate crisis was the conversation that I didn’t know how to have with my kids. That my own fears and maternal instinct to protect my children from who-knows-what’s coming down the line was preventing me from being the adult they needed. As a parent and an educator, I had to find a way to get over my paralysis and talk about it. But how?
I haven’t fully answered that question. But over the months of reflecting and trying new things, I’ve come to understand that whatever shape these essential conversations take, they all must start with hope.
And so, for this year’s Winter Concert we have been learning about some amazing kids from near and far who are doing incredible things. They are following their passion and curiosity, and, with a ton of grit, doing their very best to make a positive change. From bioplastics made of bananas to flashlights powered by the heat of one’s hand to machines that clean our oceans…. These kids are inspiring. Each of them in their own way has helped to bring into existence a future path that doesn’t yet exist. They have created something out of nothing.
Our songs have been chosen to honour each person that we’re celebrating. We’ve been working on arrangements that create “something out of nothing” by using only our voices and body percussion (with a few instruments added in here and there).
Throughout the process of preparing for this concert my goal has been for our BICS kids to feel inspired and empowered to take the passion that is in their lives and use it. I hope it has given them hope.
Editor’s note: the above was originally published as a blog post on the Bowen Island Community School website. It’s written by the school music teacher about BICS’ upcoming winter concerts. I asked to include it in the paper as hope is a crucial gift in the face of terrifying news reports and because music and hope are part of our collective humanity. Thank you for articulating it so beautifully Cindy. ––Bronwyn