Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Truckin Home", oil on masonite, by Jeff Mahorney

Teaching Journal

Day 80, Thursday, January 22, 2009

      Yesterday I worked out a plan for a boy to get started on his service project, and it surprised me, later, that it was so easy to do. The student and I spoke with the after-care supervisor for a few minutes, she expressed excitement about signing  him on as a volunteer, and, within thirty minutes we had mapped out a fairly detailed plan for the project. It was no harder or more complicated than opening a door so the student could walk through. It made me wonder how often I have faced a task as if it were an ascent of Mt. Everest, when in truth it was no more difficult than a quiet walk in the woods. How often have I worried about a job that lay ahead, when in reality it was not a job at all, but actually a gift – an opportunity to learn and grow? I guess we all make mountains out of molehills, but I’m not sure I’ve ever fully understood that old truism until today. A molehill is a petite and delicate construction, much like all the so-called problems I face. In the future I hope to be able to treat a problem the way I might treat a molehill in the yard: appreciate it, perhaps study it to understand how it was made, and finally step over it and pass peacefully by – the way my young student and I did today.   


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This morning, as the students and I were starting class, as usual, with seven minutes of silent reading, the classroom had an exceptionally serene atmosphere. The streetlamps (props for a school play a few years back) were glowing, the green desk lamps were shedding a soft light, the scholars were sipping hot chocolate and turning pages, and the only sound, almost, was the hushed breathing of faithful readers. It was an enchanting few minutes. It made me think of monks meditating in their solitary, faraway cells. My teenage students and I are only in little Stonington, and we’re certainly not monks, but some noteworthy meditation happened this morning at the start of 8th grade English.   

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