Stones into Schools

We enter schools,
stones to be chiseled
from the rock that
holds us: the history
that is our parents’
and theirs before them.
The habits we learn
from the way
we interpret things.

Schools, planned to
bring out the best,
obliterate the rock
leave us stones,
purple, yellow
ruby red, black,
shimmering, brimming
with knowledge, skills
and open minds,
the ability to
think through things.

We emerge
precious stones
outside our
hidden state.
Set to light the world
in our own right,
paving the way
for new stones
for successive

School is
anywhere we learn
so location
is relative.
Take care to
build them the best.
for better and worse,

We continue.

© 2010 Shari Lynne Smothers

Select a title from the New York Times Bestseller List. Let the title inspire a poem. I chose: STONES INTO SCHOOLS, by Greg Mortenson, as of 11.10.2010.

This poem was written to a prompt from Big Tent Poetry. Get the prompt details here.
All links and poems submitted are posted here.

About Shari Smothers

Welcome to Telling Stories, my creative writing space. My name is Shari Smothers. Poems help me to understand the world and to explain my world to others. They're my premier story telling tools. There's more to come, so please share with me through reading, commenting, emailing. Learn more about Shari here. And do come again!

16 thoughts on “Stones into Schools

  1. This poem has a strong voice and it communicates its metaphorical message powerfully and well, and that’s what counts because this is a poetry forum.

    My reservations about it are entirely educational and concern the imagistic notion of children being formed from unsculpted stone. Within the metaphor the teacher acts as the sculptor, who, in the manner of that function, is entirely responsible for the shaping of the subject. As a teacher of forty years experience I have resisted this approach as dictatorial and reductive. It seems to me that authentic education can only take place when the process arises from guidance and sharing rather than directing.

    Apologies for the mini-rant, but I’m taking the poem seriously, both as creative endeavour and eloquent statement of belief.

  2. No apologies needed for your response to my minor poetic commentary. If I miss the mark I like to know that too.

    You are correct the teacher is the sculptor. You have to understand that the ‘Teacher’ is many things, though, not just the person in the formal classroom setting. To assume that the person leading the classroom is the sole sculptor is to believe that outside the classroom, the lives of children are void, benign to say the least. And such is simply not the case.

    Consider parents–our first teachers, and family and sitters, life experiences–which impart information to children continually. Rap music, skateboarding, news media, schoolyard conversations. “School is anywhere we learn” is literal: in front of television, at the mall, boys and girls clubs of America, church, political debates, the local park. Children soak up very much of what they’re exposed to, instinctively, And that mixture is churned by the natural thought processes that the individual child brings to his experiences.

    So, if you accept it in it’s larger metaphorical sense, then life is school as I see it. The poem, then, speaks to society to step up its game for our children and theirs to come. Building and formulating the best formal learning environment we can is one small part.

    I’ll have to think about how I might have re-worded this to be more encompassing. But, that would likely be a different poem. Thank you for taking time to share your reservations.


  3. Thanks. I agree with you, it’s sad they can’t all feel as special as they are.

  4. very creative – I particularly liked the second stanza and the description of the colors of the stones.

  5. I like the tone and exposition. The last two stanzas drawing strong conclusions. And the shape on the page, the pacing emphasizing so much.

    Thanks for joining us, Shari. Nice to have you at the Tent (I remember you from Read Write Poem days 🙂 ).

  6. wonderful way to describe the student as he or she blossoms into to a confident educated you person from rock to stone to gem to bad they don’t all feel this way!

  7. Complete agreement: education is too important to be left to teachers and schools! Thanks, Shari, for following up the blather. No missing of marks involved; I was just clambering up onto a hobbyhorse!

  8. Thanks for your response to my poem. I appreciate knowing what works.

    I’m happy to finally participate at the Tent. Read Write Poem was such a great experience for me albeit brief. I wanted to re-connect with the great writers I found there.

  9. I enjoy the exchange, Dick! It’s food for thought, which is always a lasting meal. So, my thanks to you for sharing your ideas with me.

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