Friday, October 31, 2008

Day 38, Friday, October 31

During a break in today's classes, I leaned back in my chair and watched the leaves slowly dropping from a tree beside my classroom. It was a nearly windless day late in the season, so the old, crinkled leaves fell at a leisurely pace, one by one. It sometimes seemed like several minutes would pass before another leaf would drift languidly to the ground. It got me thinking (as almost anything does) about teaching. I realized that the old leaves fall only when they are totally ready to fall, when their exact time has come. There's no sense of rushing involved, but rather a great sense of patience and inevitability. The leaves will fall when they will. Unlike our human world of relentless haste and urgency, the tree and its leaves live lives of peaceful inexorableness. As I watched the tree, and waited for my next class to assemble, I hoped I might teach them just the way the leaves were falling -- steadily, gently, and quietly.
We had a major water spill in one of the classes, and instantly a group of students leapt up to assist in the clean-up. We've had spills before, and the kids have learned to respond quickly and quietly, making sure to not interrupt the lesson. It was wonderful to see five or six students silently grabbing paper towels and tissues and assiduously working to clean up the table. Unfortunately, the spill was at my table, so I was unable to continue with the lesson for a few minutes, but I fully believe I could have. I think the kids (including the ones working on the clean-up) would have stayed fairly focused. It's a tribute to their maturity and good sense. 

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