Friday, January 05, 2007
I have always taken my work as a teacher very seriously. There have been countless times, in fact, when I have felt that what I was doing in Room 2 at my little school was one of the most significant activities anyone could possibly do. I guess I’ve felt important as a teacher -- essential, crucial, indispensable. I’ve often considered it absolutely vital that I get a lesson taught thoroughly and efficiently, almost as if something bad will happen to the universe if I don’t. What I’m realizing more and more lately, however, is that the universe will do just beautifully no matter how I teach a lesson. I am an infinitesimally tiny part of a cosmos that has been admirably creating itself for many billions of years – and it doesn’t need any special help from me. The innumerable stars will continue to flash and spin whether or not my forty students learn what a participle is. What I may need to do, occasionally, is take a few steps back and have a good laugh at myself. I may need to take my teaching work a little less seriously and a little more playfully. After all, the universe plays a lot more than it works. I don’t think of the sun as “working hard” to provide light for the solar system, nor does the wind seem to make a big effort to blow. The entire grand universe seems to do so well precisely because no one part tries to be more important than another – i.e., takes itself too seriously. Each part knows that the universe will continue in its majestic and harmonious course no matter what. This doesn’t mean that I should not be the best teacher I can possibly be. On the contrary, by not taking myself so seriously in the classroom, I will allow the truly vast power of education to do its marvelous work. By getting my diminutive, self-important ego out of the way, the powerful river of teaching and learning will be able to flow a lot more freely.