Friday, February 15, 2008


B is for Behold

In my teaching, I would like to be involved in less doing and more beholding. One dictionary gives this as a definition for ‘behold’: “To gaze at, as in We beheld a beautiful vista before us”—and this is exactly what I would like to do more of. In my classroom at any given time, there are a group of astonishing human beings performing astonishing mental and verbal actions, and I need to step back more often and simply behold them. The vista from the summit of a mountain is – and I really believe this – no more beautiful than the view I have each moment of a roomful of students thinking with originality and speaking with passion. As I would do if I were on top of a mountain, I need to occasionally stand back and look steadily, intently, and with fixed attention at what’s occurring in my room. I need to gaze at the astounding things that are happening – the thoughts being continuously fashioned and shared, the knowledge being steadily produced. It’s as miraculous as what tourists see at Old Faithful, and it’s happening all day in my little classroom on Barnes Road. It’s sad that I am often so mired in classroom minutiae – the constant doing, doing, doing that teachers habitually fall into – that I rarely take time to enjoy the view. My students are always thinking deeply and living fully, and yet I rarely notice it. While their faces are shining with new ideas and feelings, I’m too busy checking off the steps of my lesson plan to pay much attention. I’m too busy to behold the vista that’s right in front of me.

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