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You Shouldn't Need Permission To Dance

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There we were on a lazy Saturday morning. At the breakfast table, enjoying pancakes, bacon and a cool iTunes mix. When all of a sudden a song by One Direction came on. My son looked at me and said


Daddy, can I dance?

I thought to myself, why is he asking permission? Just get up and let loose little buddy. Of course I immediately said yes. And he proceeded to dance a jig as only a four year olds could. I wanted to snap a picture, but doing so would have caused the song to stop playing and I wasn't about to interrupt this.

It was a beautiful moment of self expression. But, I still can't help but wonder why he felt the need to ask for permission.

To dance.

In his own house.

On a Saturday.

To a jammin' tune.

This brief moment with my son led me to wonder if we are providing our students enough opportunities to Dance. And if we're not, why not? And in the off chance that we are, do our students feel they need our permission to do so? I don't think that Picasso asked for anyone's permission to dance. I don't think that Toni Morrison asked for anyone's permission to dance. And I am quite certain that Steve Jobs never felt the need to ask for anyone's permission.

Neither of the aforementioned individuals would have created a fraction of what they did if they would have waited for permission. How many young artists, writers and engineers have we discouraged simply because we didn't allow them the time and the space and the freedom to express what was inside them?

I wonder.


I always wanted to invent something that would move around & make funny noises & would change the world as we know it & I forgot all about that until we had kids & now I see I came pretty close.


Brian Andreas, Invention


This is not to say that we should allow our students to have free rein. That would be ludicrous. But I believe that we do need to allow them the opportunity to find their true passion. And once they do. Let them spend time exploring them. The problem is that if a child feels that they must ask permission every time they feel urge to dance, pretty soon they will stop hearing the music altogether. Therein lies the tragedy that we must work to prevent.

We can do this through opportunities like genius hour and 20% time. We can do this by not always telling students what they have to read and what they have to write. When permission precedes expression, dreams die. Enthusiasm becomes nonexistent. And the dance floor becomes empty.

Will it be a little scary?


Will it be a little messy?

Most definitely!

But what is our endgame? Do we want to teach our students how to capture a few pawns? Or would we rather them set their sights on the queen? It is up to us. Children come to us at four and five years old thinking that they can fly. Who are we to clip their wings?


The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.


J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
















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Jon is currently the assistant principal in Dorchester County, Maryland. This is his seventh year serving as an assistant principal at the elementary level. Prior to becoming an administrator he served as a Math Coach and an elementary school teacher. During his ten years as a classroom teacher he taught first, second, fourth and fifth grades. During his sixth year teaching he earned Nationally Board Certification, which he held for ten years. For seven years he ran a Young Gentleman's Club that was aimed at helping young men reach their full potential.  

Jon received a B.A. from Furman University while majoring in Philosophy. He later went on to earn his B.S from Salisbury University while majoring in Elementary Education. Jon was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to student teach in New Zealand. He eventually received his M.A. degree from Salisbury University in Public School Administration.

Jon lives in Cambridge, Maryland with his amazing wife and two awesome children.

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Guest Sunday, 19 May 2019