People, like pieces of pottery, are sometimes shattered. Frequently, teens and their parents come to me worried about whether they will be able to attain college admissions after rough academic performance in the freshman year. It is then that my mind turns to the Japanese art of kintsukuroi and its inherent philosophy.
It is never too late to make something beautiful of our lives when we are willing to embrace our flaws and what John Legend so beautifully calls “perfect imperfections” in his popular song “All of Me”.
Interestingly, from a linguistics perspective: kintsukuroi is a noun and/or a phrasal verb — a state of being and/or something actively being done. It is not an adjective. I teach teens that we are not defined by our mistakes. We are made into a beautiful state of wholeness through the gilded threads of intention and willingness to heal the past.
The US educational system is in desperate need of such a change. When enough parents unite and advocate, things will change. I foresee a future when these dark days of overcrowded, underfunded classrooms and standardized testing mania recede in the rearview mirror. Sometimes we have to notice how lost we are in order to find solutions. How many broken pieces will it take to motivate the change American students deserve?