Tuesday, August 22, 2006

JOURNAL: August 22, 2006

I’m feeling more and more excited as the new school year approaches. Yesterday, in fact, my excitement began to border on fear. Off and on during the day, I had this feeling (and I’ve had it in previous years) that, come September 4, I would be heading off into an immense wilderness with very few maps and supplies. It came to me, over and over again, that this business of teaching children is an utterly colossal undertaking, one which I am actually ill-prepared for. It’s as if I’m going to be blasting off on a journey to the moon, and I know absolutely nothing about space or space ships! I suppose there’s some exaggeration in that statement, but not much, I’m afraid. As a teacher, I am involved in a thrilling but dumbfounding enterprise. My students and I are infinitely complex parts of an infinitely complex universe, and to pretend that I understand how we work and how the universe works well enough to be even a mildly astute teacher is just plain foolishness. I’m afraid the truth is that I will be walking in a great darkness, just feeling my way, hoping I do no harm. Of course, there’s another way to look at it – a more heartening way. If my students and I are parts of a universe that has been successfully creating and expanding for billions of years, perhaps I can simply trust that universe to continue being productive after September 4. If I do my best, the Universe (which is my name for God) will continue to do its best – and its “best” has proven to be fairly wonderful. That’s a reassuring thought. I guess I can breathe a little easier now as I go about the happy task of preparing for another school year.

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