Wednesday, October 30, 2019


the draw of the waterfall

a waterfall is a magnet,
pulling even resistant bodies and souls to it,
the miles of work, 
of rough footing,
 of self-doubt,
somehow worth the price,

once there we enjoy it,
but it doesn’t hold us,
and, as if after a test,
we can race back into our normal.

by Henry H. Walker
October 26, ‘19

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

the cart and the horse

the analytic and the synthesizer

which path is surer to the complete truth:
to analyze—to break into discrete parts, as if in a dissection,
or to synthesize—to find each larger whole that pieces can make?

truth should be organically alive,
and, by its very nature, 
dissection is of the dead, mechanistic,

the critic seduces us,
to look askance,
to assert one’s own ideas
of what is wrong with the other,
by tearing them down
we feel larger, smarter,
that’s part of what I felt in college:
I was rewarded in the attack,
I felt little support in my drive
to find new wholes within which
I could find truth revealed,

with middle schoolers
I believe in the power of the student as creator,
that stories are not made by putting sentences together,
then paragraphs, 
then the whole assembled as if from Legos,

rather I feel students pull a wholeness
as if from out of the mists within them,
once the story, the thought, coalesces,
something new is born,
punctuation, spelling, convention, 
then can have their time, their focus,
so that the newborn can be presentable,
accessible to the rest of the world,
presentation has its place,
but the necessary miracle, the precursor,
is the creation itself,
a synthesis of imagination and heart, tempered by intellect,

what education should be about is empowerment,
the coming into one’s power and changing the world
with one’s thought, one’s feeling, one’s action,
changing the world with one story,
with one essay, with one poem,
with the gestalt of a passionate involvement with a book,
and one’s reactions to it, shared,
in a corporate reach toward meaning, toward revelation,
toward making sense of the world and our place within it,

math works as revelation, too,
if it can be felt as real to understanding,
to be the language the universe speaks,
not worksheet games that live just for themselves,

the cart cannot pull the horse,
the analytic is the cart,
the synthesizer is the horse,
both are vital,
but we cannot move without the primal creation,
where we trust ourselves
to pull coherence into existence.

by Henry H. Walker
October 28, ‘19

but a part

human circles

it takes a conscious decision
to turn from other humans 
into the great other from which we awoke,

our human circles help us feel larger, real, safe,
while outside them we can feel smaller, less real, scared,

Western tradition has given us a great gift
of the rational, the individual,
but such a gift also demands a high price,
as we forget to be larger,
to feel the whole
of which we, at our best,
are but a part.

by Henry H. Walker
October 25, ‘19

Saturday, October 12, 2019

the Hispanic Festival at Carolina Friends School

Kelly releases the best of who we are

the teacher has a vision,

a way for who she is
to release itself even more fully within the school,
a way to make even more of a difference,

her whole self engages with her lower and middle school students,
helping each move forward in their understanding and use of Spanish,
and then to enter into understanding
the countries, peoples, cultures,
for whom Spanish is the way thoughts are formed,
love expressed, connections made, life lived,

today, for the second year in a row, she is the major force
pulling off an Hispanic festival at Carolina Friends School,

as students, parents, visitors, and staff enter,
an enthusiastic greater shouts: “Hola!” at all,
dancing with a welcoming poster,

within: booths of food, information, games, flags,
a program of song and dance, of enthusiasm and Spanish,
with students announcing each part in Spanish, then in English,

the afternoon is of joy and multicultural celebration,
of individuals risking to be enthusiastic,

of groups coming together and bringing us along
with the power of their movement and song, and expression of self,

a part of our community celebrated as who we are,
a model of how our school can be one with the many.

by Henry H. Walker
October 10, ‘19

give them the chance to triumph

middle schoolers and self-doubt

an advisee blurts out:
“Why are middle schoolers so anxious 
about performing in front of others?”
some answer they don’t know,
one answers that it’s simple: 
“They are middle schoolers.”
I answer that in the middle school ages,
people click into a new understanding, 
a new realization of self,
and self in relation to others,

rather than empowering the optimist within,
too often such a change empowers the pessimist within,
the syndrome of the imposter can permeate them,
the fear that changes without and within
are distorting the formerly unblemished child
into a budding adult with acne on the face and in the soul,

the face and body that were perfect for parent and grandparent,
distorted toward the wrong,
and they fear what others see in them,
for each cannot see self in a real mirror,
but instead they see self in a funhouse mirror,
all wrong and funny-looking,
what a school needs to do
is to accurately mirror back to the student
the extraordinary self that is already there,
and can become even better
if believed in by others, and by the self itself,

beware the smudge, the flaw in the view,
believe in the new which builds upon the old,
and can triumph if but given the chance.

by Henry H. Walker
October 10, ‘19

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

ADHD reality

living life at a different speed

I remember a Star Trek episode
where the crew of the Enterprise 
had to deal with a humanoid life-form
who lived life faster than they,
an hour to us maybe a second for them,

this episode comes to me
as I empathically leap into my students’ worlds, 
we come up with an acronym, ADHD,
and that seems to help us get the challenges faced
by a student who is hyper-aware,
who lives her/his/their life
with different governors within:
beware the predator who attempts to sneak up on them!

they live their life   
doing the best they can 
to please parent, teacher, self,
yet they’re living on a tightrope
with pulls of attractive stimuli to every side,   

I can attempt to insert myself and my ideas of how to move forward,     
but I can then often get a perplexed “What?” in response,

I believe in each child and their drive to do well,
I am challenged by my own drive to do well,
and my feeling out of sync with the student,
as they seek to figure how to succeed in a game
whose rules only vaguely appear to them,

I feel like Captain Kirk in that Star Trek episode,
knowing there’s a different reality out there

and aching to understand it.  

by Henry H. Walker
October 5, ‘19