In solidarity with all students retuning to school this August I post this image of my artists’ book You Can You Cannot.
Learning in school was all or nothing for me. I remember vividly the shame and anxiety of not getting it- different from the less complex and innocent: not knowing, Not getting it for me was mostly in the domain of the left side of the brain: how to multiply and divide fractions, or involved moving through space in an unfamiliar way: how to throw a baseball, how to climb a rope or how to make a 3 dimensional shape with wire.
Now I can recognize the blank feeling of not getting it –and try to wait patently for the sense like rusty unused gears meshing unevenly with each other- that lies quietly beneath it. This sensation of ungainly, slightly itchy meshing turns out to be the key; signaling that right and left hemispheres are working as part of the same whole and that actual learning is taking place.
In the pages of my book the phrase You Can alternates with You Cannot – laser printed over the existing pages of a late 1940s era reading book. I send this out with increasing awareness that the process this refers to is just that a process and not a sign of the inability to learn, or that learning is taking place too slowly.