Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What will your verse be?

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I was watching TV the other day and I saw the most inspirational commercial ever!  It was the "Your Verse" commercial for the new iPad Air, and it completely moved me.  I was so moved, not only because it integrated one of my favorite movies of all time, Dead Poets Society, but because it also integrated technology and education.

The message of this commercial is to do what you love; be who you want to be in life; and let technology help to express yourself along the way.  It's about being human, and enjoying all of the things in life that make us human.  Finally, it's about the fact that each of us is special, and that we all have something unique and valuable to contribute to society.



Robin Williams is the voice in this commercial which was taken directly from the movie, Dead Poets Society.  In the movie, John Keating (played by Robin Williams) has a soliloquy in the classroom where he gives the most inspirational advice anyone could ever give to another person.  In his soliloquy, he borrows a few lines from the poem, "O Me! O Life!" by Walt Whitman, which adds to the beauty of his message:

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, 'O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?  Answer.  That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse.' What will your verse be?"




The final message in his speech reads, "What will your verse be?" This is such an empowering message to those students in the film.  This is not only a great reminder to each of us, but it is a great reminder for us as educators to instill this message into the hearts and minds of our own students.  To believe in them. To challenge them. To empower them to follow their passions. And to do the things in life that make them happy.

This message also reminds me of the ending to the book "Orbiting the Giant Hairball" by Gordon MacKenzie.  Gordon MacKenzie uses this same concept, but instead he uses painting as an analogy, rather than poetry.

“You have a masterpiece inside you, too, you know.  One unlike any that has ever been created, or ever will be.  And remember:  If you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted.  No one else can paint it.  Only you.” 

So, I leave you with a message that is a combination of the words by John Keating and Gordon MacKenzie.  We need to encourage our students not only to identify their "verse" in the "powerful play" of life, but to also make sure that it is documented and that it gets spoken!

As educators, let's always remember to ask our students,  What will your verse be? And how will you perform it?


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