Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I’ve had some wonderful classes the past few days, and, for some reason, it has called to mind something my dad used to tell me when I was using a handsaw. When he saw that I was struggling, he would often say, “Put your weight behind it. Let your weight and the weight of the saw do the work.” What he wanted me to do, I realized, was quit struggling, quit fighting the task, and just allow my body and the saw to exert the energy. He knew that once I gave up trying to do the job with my hands and arms, I would understand how much untapped power is available to me. This memory came back to me because I think the recent success of my teaching has a lot to do with what I learned from my father. More and more, I’m becoming aware that the very best kind of teaching is not typically done by ambitious, single-minded teachers who want to prove they are masters at their craft. Rather, it’s usually done by humble, modest ones who understand that any success in the classroom is due to the work of infinite forces that are way, way beyond their control. They know that every thought they think and word they speak is born out of the endless workings of the measureless universe – a universe that has enough power to do all the teaching for all eternity. These good teachers literally feel this power doing the work as they go through their days at school. I guess what I was sensing this past week was strangely similar to what I felt as a boy when I “let go” of my struggling and allowed my weight and the saw to do the work. This week I felt liberated in the classroom. I felt an enormous power at work in my teaching, and I realized that all I had to do was relax and let this power do the work. Once I did that, wonderful things happened in the classroom, far more beautiful than a handsaw slicing effortlessly through a two-by-four.

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