Last night I witnessed a group of teens who came out voluntarily on a summer evening to hang out with their high school teachers. I'll bet that doesn't happen much. They came with guitars, both acoustic and electric. They came with mandolins and banjos. Some came with amps. One brought a cajon.
My husband teaches multiple levels of guitar to high schoolers and this party was put on by the parents of one of his students who is going off to college in the Fall. It was open to current students and graduates--yes, even students who graduated last year showed up. There was swimming, and snacking, and a cookout. But then--the jam session.
They played. And they played. There were improvised solos, and singing, and harmonizing. There was good natured kidding and laughter. The students were listening to eachother, paying attention, taking turns as the melody got passed around and the chords went around one more time.
It was beautiful.
It made me think about passion. What are the things that ignite passion in our kids, that they want to pursue voluntarily? In this case it was music. But around me I see plenty of other examples: dance, theater, art, robotics, writing, coding, 3-D printing, sports, mechanics, culinary arts...And I'm sure I have forgotten something.
We have spent too many years doubling down on "the basics" while forgetting how important it is for kids to discover and explore their passions. Passion ignites us. Motivates us. Gives us a chance to take "the basics" and apply them in other ways--the joy of imagination, creation, and practical application.
It is beautiful.
It's also insanely practical because applying skills learned and finding motivation are two huge parts of being college, career, and life ready. What is life without passion? Without motivation? Without something new to learn?
So the second annual summer guitar party is in the books. I hope there will be many more. And I hope our kids all have the chance to discover the joy of something that lights them up and lifts them up. That's what education--and life-- is all about.