From Black Elk Speaks
After the long winter of waiting, it was my first duty to go out lamenting. So after the first rain storm I began to get ready.
I recently heard Kent Dobson talk about this idea of "lamenting" - what is often thought of as a "vision quest." [I apologize in advance if I get some of the details wrong in this post. A lot of what I'm writing is a combination of my memory of and the connections made during his talk. Please let me know in the comments if anything needs correcting.]
In the Lakota tradition, when a seeker comes of age, he or she goes off with an elder to "cry for a vision." After some preparation, the seeker is left alone to lament the current state of the community and seek answers in the form of a vision. From time to time, the elder looks in on the lamenting to advise and support the seeker. When the lamenting is complete, the seeker returns to the community and shares the vision. This is an important rite for the community because without new ideas, a community withers and dies.
As I begin a new year of supervising student teaching, I want this ritual to inform my work. I hope to play the role of the elder supporting coming-of-age teachers as they experience (and lament) the current circumstances in math education and seek new answers. I will listen to those answers and take them seriously because in many ways our profession is withering. And I will help the student teachers to share their visions with the larger math education community, so that these seekers might contribute to the development of our profession.
Thank you in advance for welcoming these seekers and helping to interpret and implement their visions.