Slack in the System

Kindergarteners generate a lot of papers in school.
Coloring sheets, pinhole pictures, letter practice, and much more.
If they are like mine, they supplement that with reams of printed coloring pages at home.
Kindergarteners generate a lot of papers…
Let’s be honest: most of this is going into the recycling bin. It’s not that it isn’t important, or sweet, or that we won’t be nostalgic someday. It’s that there’s so much of it. But even though it doesn’t last long, it’s vital that it exists.
Kindergarteners need slack in the system to grow and learn. They need too much paper, even if most of it only exists for a week, then is recycled. The growth they achieve remains even as the paper disappears.
Although the paper gets recycled, you can’t skip it without sacrificing learning. The slack in the paper system is part of what enables the growth.
* * *
Listen: we are all having our paper taken away. Budget cuts, efficiency, “worker productivity” – call it what you will, it is taking away the slack in our system.
I see it especially in the education world, where teachers have done more with less every year I’ve been interacting with a school system. Where administrators are compelled to live in a world of “no” because a system with no slack allows nothing else.
Can you imagine a kindergartener hearing nothing but “no”? Of course she would give up. It’s inevitable.
We need papers that will get recycled. We need the space to dream and imagine and create: it’s how we get better.
We need to put the slack back in all of our systems.

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