Liminal Moments for Positive Change
The transition from the school year to summer brings to my mind the idea of liminal moments, a place in time where one thing transitions to another. In other words, one thing is no longer and the next thing is not yet, so, in this example, no longer school year and not yet something. We face many other liminal moments in our lives as well—from school to career, from one career to the other, from single to couple, just to note a few.
The word liminal comes from a Latin root that means threshold. A threshold is a boundary, think doorway, that marks a point of transition between one thing and another. As educators and parents, we can and should encourage our gifted, talented, and creative students to use such thresholds in their liminal moments to embrace the idea of positive change. How might we enhance the experience of those liminal moments to pivot into a different approach to the change that will naturally occur and make it an intensely positive transition?
Three steps that are critical to establishing positive change in liminal moments might be summarized this way:
First, we would encourage students to get in touch with a knowledge of the things they don’t know. What is missing in your information and understanding of any area of your life or studies? What questions remain unanswered that tickle your brain? What emotions seem to be struggling for attention that have been ignored? What skills or talents are lurking in the background of your consciousness that you think should be pursued? The responses you generate from these questions may lead you into a decision to try something new and unexpected in your journey to create positive change.
Second, we would suggest that students find ways to understand the things they have no knowledge of. Once you land on a topic, area, issue, or other idea of intrigue, gather all the knowledge and information you can about that area or skillset. Who can help you gain expertise? What resources do you have to gather this new knowledge? What additional resources can you garner? How do you feel about this pursuit as you gain expertise and awareness? Who can you share this information with to be able to explore it fully through discourse?
Finally, we would want students to do something different while contemplating the next step beyond the threshold. Tackle the option to create positive change in your personal and global world in a way you would not have considered in the past. It might mean a new viewpoint, a new creation, a new pathway, a new problem to solve, or a dozen other possibilities. How can you make it meaningful and personal to you?
To ensure that students make the most of their liminal moments, we adults must provide opportunities, choices, freedom to choose the next steps, time to consider possibilities, guidance where needed, and understanding that such choices and decisions must emerge from the students. Let’s help them view the threshold from no longer into not yet as an opportunity for greatness.