Tuesday, October 24, 2006
ON TEACHING: Humility
Last night, I received my student evaluations from my last college course, and I was surprised by the relatively mediocre grades (a B+/A- average). For a few hours, I moped around in a semi-depressed manner, moaning to myself about my lack of ability as a teacher, thinking of myself as at least a partial failure at the work I love so much. It was not a happy time for me. Luckily, though, this morning I read in the Bible the story of the Pharisee and the publican, and that few minutes of reading completely changed my way of thinking. I saw that I had been acting like the Pharisee – full of my “self”, building my self up in my own eyes, thinking of my self as a separate, powerful, accomplished, and praiseworthy person. I had been exalting myself (as the King James version puts it) – probably for many years – and now, with the receipt of these mediocre evaluations, I had been humbled. What I had to remember – and I did this morning – is that no separate “self” does the teaching in my classroom. The power that does all the work is an infinite spiritual power that has nothing to do with a so-called individual, physical person named Hamilton Salsich. I needed to “humble” my self and become receptive to this vast force that rules all times and all things. The fact that “Mr. Salsich” received some specific suggestions about his teaching is irrelevant. What’s important is that the immense enterprise called teaching and learning will continue to expand and improve, no matter what “I” decide to do. The universe (God) will lift me up in its enormous hands and the great process called education will inexorably continue.