Friday, November 28, 2008
Reading Paul's letter to the Ephesians today, I came across this intriguing statement -- "Everything you are and do and think is permeated with oneness" -- and it led me (as just about everything does these days) to thinking about my work as a middle school English teacher. As the years have passed, I have given more and more thought to the difference between separateness and togetherness -- or oneness -- in education, and in my classroom in particular. When I began teaching 40-some years ago, separateness seemed to be at the heart of what I was doing. The students were over there and I was over here. We were separate individuals trying to work out our own unrelated destinies. Their duty, independently, was to learn as much as they could and earn the best grades possible, and my duty, as a person essentially disconnected from them, was to be their teacher. We met together in the classroom each day, but, in truth, we went our private, separate ways. Gradually, though, I have come to see that it is, in fact, quite impossible for any of us to go our separate ways. We are all interconnected, linked, joined, and fused -- animals, plants, humans, stones, trees, and rivers. For me to consider myself separate from the scholars in my classroom is as silly as thinking a breeze is separate from the vast weather patterns of the universe. In Room 2, we're all in it together. We share light, air, words, ideas, and feelings. Yes, we seem to be separate, just as ripples in a stream seem to be separate, but the truth is very different. The students and I and streams and winds and far-flung stars are, as Paul knew, permeated with an unavoidable and wonderful oneness.