Wednesday, September 13, 2006
ON TEACHING: Glory
It may seem implausible to think of my students as being “glorious”, and my classroom as “full of glory”, but nonetheless, that’s been my line of thinking recently. (Sometimes I think I’m implausible.) Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary gives this as the definition of “glory”: "brightness, luster, splendor, magnificence", and when I think of my students the way they truly are, the definition surely fits. Every moment, each of my students is thinking a totally new thought -- a thought that has come to them unbidden, in a completely magical and mysterious way. It’s as if each student has a sun inside them that is newly rising each moment as they sit in English class. The class may be boring, but the thought that is being born inside them at 9:23 am or 1:09 pm is as fresh and fascinating as a new star in the sky. Yes, if I see my students as merely physical presences in my room, then certainly they can seem the opposite of glorious. They can seem to be simply bundles of clothes sitting before me onto which I’m trying to dump bundles of information. Regrettably that is, in fact, the way I see them during most of my classes, day after day. However, it is simply not the truth of who they are. A physicist would tell me my students are infinitely complex systems of energy spinning at super speeds, and, as a spiritually-minded person, I would alter that somewhat and say they are infinitely complex systems of constantly unfolding thoughts. As such, there’s never anything old about my students. They are always new as they sit before me. They shine with a glorious splendor that I hope I can open my eyes and actually see today.