Friday, July 25, 2008


“All Things Considered”

I’ve unconsciously tossed around this phrase countless times, but lately I’ve been thinking seriously about its relevance to my teaching. The fact is that all things should always be considered, by both me and my teenage scholars. We should always try to get the biggest possible picture of these mysteries called life and education. As we go through our days in school, we need to try our best to circumspectly see the innumerable variables that are always in operation. Yes, we must focus on the one thing, the single task, that’s before us at any moment, but we also need to somehow keep “all things” in view. If we do that, my scholars and I will be able to relax and concentrate more efficiently, because we will know we are part of a vast and harmonious universe that always considers all things. In this regard, I find it helpful to sometimes pretend I’m a powerful camera placed on a far away star. First I zoom way in on the single task – let’s say a lesson on theme -- that is before me in the classroom. At that very close perspective, the task seems overwhelmingly important, and, in a sense, it is. Being the one job within reach, it deserves my maximum attention. However, as I pull the zoom slowly back, I begin to see other important things – all my scholars, first of all, with all their fears and dreams, and then the other scholars in other classes in the school, and then the town, the shopping areas, and the homes of my scholars, with their innumerable troubles and triumphs. I begin to realize that, while the lesson on themes is important, so are all these other things. Then, as I keep zooming out with the camera, I see all the scholars in America, and then all the scholars in the world. I also see millions of starving and sick people, the dying and the dead, the newborn and the thriving. I see mountains and forests and seas. And when I pull back further, I begin to consider all things – the endless universe itself, with its limitless spinning galaxies and stars. I still see my single task – the lesson on themes – but now I also see how this task is merely a part of the boundless activity of an astonishing universe. All things considered, I realize, again, that teaching my scholars about themes is, indeed, an important task, but no more important than all the other multitudinous undertakings of the magnificent cosmos we are lucky to live in.

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