After the Riots: Part Three – Forever Young, with Head, Hands and Heart

Roger Lloyd Pack was talking about his Legacy Tunes on Radio Four.
His mother listened to Mozart. Roger listened to Bob Dylan.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qgj4

Roger described Bob Dylan as his “mentor, friend and spiritual companion”.

If anyone described me as a mentor, friend and spiritual companion simply from the fact that they’d listened to my music or read my words, then I could die a very contented person.

If anyone described me as a mentor, friend and spiritual companion, then I would feel spiritually humbled and honoured.

We search around for words to find comfort from and to learn from, and we so often disregard the brilliance of words that have already been spoken or sung. Why is Bob Dylan not on the syllabus in every school? Or Leonard Cohen for that matter too. Or Linton Kwese Johnson.

These genius poets and lyricists have an abundance of thoughts that every child and young person should be enabled to reflect upon.

Roger Lloyd Pack said that he had chosen this song because it really was a legacy song. It represented the sorts of advice that he would like to give to his children.

May God bless and keep you always 
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others 
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars 
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young 
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous 
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth 
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous 
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young 
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy 
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation 
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful 
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young 
May you stay forever young.

http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/forever-young

This really is a head, hands and heart song, as many of Dylan’s are.

“May you always know the truth and see the lights surrounding you…………, may your hands be always busy, May your feet be always swift………., May you always do for others, and let others do for you……..”

What have you done today for your head, your hands and your heart?

This is a question that we should be asking ourselves daily and encouraging children to do the same thing.

If I was teaching English in a secondary school, this is precisely the sort of writing that I would like to share with my students.

Find a head, hands and heart in this poem or that song. What does Dylan mean when he says, “May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong?” – is it right to always be strong? What is the difference between assertive strength and aggressive strength? What works best in the long term for yourself and others?

Perhaps you would like to add another verse, or maybe write how you feel about living for ever? Or how about working with a friend and debating the pros and cons of being forever young?

And so on. There’s plenty to engage young people in such lyrics if they feel an attachment to what is being said.

Please note that whilst the above could all tick the boxes for English learning outcomes, the lesson would also have a healthy dose of PSHE education which should be an implicit part of all lessons to ensure that the dedicated curriculum lesson is not seen in isolation.

The lesson may continue with an open discussion.

Is it really a sensible aspiration to be “forever young”? Does being forever young have negative and positive sides? Death is frightening but do you really want to live forever?

On the same radio programme as the Legacy Track they were explaining that scientists think they might have located the ageing gene within chromosomes. There is still the idea that cryogenics could prolong life but, as the poet today said, what happens if you wake up in some sort of dystopia with a helpful politician greeting you in a drought-ridden country saying “We’re all in this together!”

We live in a fascinating world and we don’t use our heads, hands or hearts nearly as frequently as we ought, and we often forget to use them in parallel.

Talking about our head, hands and heart with learning based on specific song  lyrics and poems can certainly, in our view, prevent young people from getting themselves involved in the situations that we saw on the streets during the August riots of last year.

We often learn by repetition – behaviour is learned. If we enable people to talk, to think, to share and to truly empathise, then we could have a calmer and less aggressive society with many young people undergoing positive “character building”.

We may not want to live forever, but being forever young and constantly seeking meaning through the creativity of others is a human blessing that we should be using much more generously.

With so many words already spoken, written and sung by some inspirational and wise artists and philosophers, we could live forever and still not exhaust all forms of creative stimulation and expression.

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About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at https://3diassociates.wordpress.com/ or see our website at www.3diassociates.com.
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