Thursday, December 06, 2007


Day 61, December 5, 2007

Just before classes started today, I happened to read this passage from Walt Whitman: "Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they discuss I am silent." I thought of those words often throughout the day, and they helped me be a more patient and accepting teacher. Like Whitman, I believe there is a "perfect equanimity and fitness of things" -- of all things, events, ideas, and people. With my myopic, small-minded view of things, I don't always perceive this equanimity and fitness, but it's there nonetheless. Whatever a student says in class somehow fits perfectly with what I had just said, and with what the next speaker says. All of our activities during class in some way mesh together to form a perfect pattern, although, unfortunately, my students and I usually fail to recognize it. Whatever happens during class is, one way or another, perfect just as it is. If the student-led discussion seems to be going in a direction that I wasn't planning on, it's still, somehow, an ideal direction, even though my preferred direction might also be ideal in another way. The point is that everything is ideal, the ultimate, the best -- somehow or other. Whitman seemed to understand this, which is what enabled him to often be a silent observer of things while most people around him were dashing hither and thither trying to change the world and get a million things done. Today I remembered the words of his poem, and thus I was able to be a more accessible and accommodating observer during class. I had made a careful lesson plan, and I was able to loosen up and let the lesson plan go where it wanted to go, where it was best to go, where everything fit exactly as it should.

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