Tuesday, October 17, 2006

ON TEACHING: Looking Around

Today, at least on one occasion, I fell back into a bad habit of mine: speaking without carefully considering what I was going to say. In that sense, I failed to be a circumspect teacher, something I always aim for in my work. The word suggests an ability to "look around" at the circumstances and the possible ramifications before speaking or acting, and I did little or none of that in this situation. Some students had moved a few lounge chairs around in the library, and, with no forethought whatsoever, I chastised them in a rather unfriendly manner. I didn’t think; I simply spoke. I’m afraid I behaved more like a machine than a person. That kind of thing happens to me more often than I usually realize. I spend a good portion of the school day reacting – talking and behaving in a hasty, unthinking manner. In a sense, you could say I’m a classic example of the absent-minded “professor”, since a clear-thinking, observant mind seems absent during much of my day. I do a lot more thoughtless drifting than mindful steering. This could be a project for me to work on this year. I could try, each day, each hour, to put thought before words and actions. I could let attentiveness control my life instead of impulsivity. I could look around before I jump ahead.

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