One of the ideas that Gatto mentioned that has really tickled my brain is that of "style." It was in the context of communication ability and how connections and associations provide opportunities.
He talked about how freedom and play lead to the development of individual style, and that a distinctive style is priceless. My immediate reaction was to think about my oldest son, not to the exclusion of the others, but because he has such a strong personal style. My thoughts then wandered through each of my own children and on to some of those of my friends. They each have it. They each have a uniqueness of expression that comes out in myriad ways: speech, writing, dress, interests, hobbies, musical preferences, college and career choices, and more. They are all comfortable in their own skins.
What a gift! I don't think I achieved any level of comfort in my skin, any real personal style, until I was in my mid-30's. My daughter's writing as a college freshmen showed an ease of expression that all of my fevered attempts couldn't achieve. My 16 year old wears a hat--not a baseball cap--and wears it with panache and proper etiquette, because it brings him joy.
Because part of my eldest son's personal style is a level of good manners seldom seen in most adult men today, he makes friends everywhere he goes. And it has rubbed off on his brothers--another post is coming...--which has helped them to make connections of many sorts, all of which enrich their lives in some way.
School squelches style. That's part of its job. You see it in the appearance of the girls going into freshman composition classes on a college campus: droves of straightened bleached hair, make up, tight jeans, tight t-shirts, flip-flops, slouched shoulders and a shuffling flip-flop walk. You hear it in the conversations. Those who dare maintain their own style in high school are usually the outcasts of one sort or another.
I loved Gatto's idea that style comes from play. I see it. In each of my kids I see echoes of their amusements in their personal styles. I see echoes of the world of Dyger, created by them when they were littles. I see and hear the influences of Jane Austen, Tolkein, and Dr. Seuss. I notice echoes of Darkwing Duck, Barbies & Legos, and the Zoombinis. I see Haydn and Beethoven and Clementi and Rush and Boston and Joseph's Dreamcoat and Les Miserables. And in their movements I see hours of soccer.
It makes me glad that my kids have had lots of freedom. And that's another post.