In Defence of Advisory
Standing at the grassy edge of the amphitheatre, under the fading rays of a summer sun and the cool whispers of an autumn wind, I watched Mr. Huygens and Ms. Jones pontificate to a group of students. They were talking about how long they have taught, and whether or not they have ever given up on a kid during their careers. Although some of the students knew these educators, others had never stepped foot in their offices. It was a captivating show: personal, engaging, and interesting. It was advisory.
Much maligned and often scorned, advisory has been treated as a pariah among courses. A food stop, homework catch up and a chance to talk with friends – yes, but, a place for education – no. Some argue bonding and relationship building belong on sports fields, outdoor education trips, and fine arts performances. I argue that the soul of a school, the connective tissue, the intricate understanding of togetherness that defines a living community, lies in the common and shared experiences of knowing one another.
Take a random, diverse group of people with, perhaps, no real commonalities, and through a process, forge them together into something greater than themselves. It does not mean they will be lifelong friends, but instead, they will learn to grow as a mini-society with a shared core. As Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This feeling of rightness can easily be lost in institutions. I think that advisory is a place to find it. The Killers said it simpler, “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier.”
If you went to my long time advisory and said a few simple phrases: “backpack on head,” “yummy in my tummy,” “the tic tac toe incident,” “basketball court games” or “trying to win Queeny’s love” they would immediately understand the value of this feeling. Even my new advisory whom I’ve only met a few times can already begin to understand, “the girl who loved fire drills” or “this is me.”
So go to advisory. Build. Create. Deliver. You will be surprised to see what you might find in the end, and who you become along the way.