AUTOMATIC REACTING VS. CONSCIOUS RESPONDING
It’s always hard to pin-down one main goal for a coming school year, but right now, in mid-June, I’m thinking about this as a goal for next year: more conscious responding and less automatic reacting. If I had to name one problem that most reliably plagues both my students and me day after day, it might be the tendency to react quickly, without much serious thought. In our thoughts and in our speech, I’m afraid we often jump into the action too quickly, too heedlessly. Not only might the old slogan “first thought, best thought” apply to us, but “first words, best words” too – except that they’re not the best thoughts nor the best words. They’re just the first that come to our minds and lips, and so we grab them. This year, perhaps my scholars and I can make a pact to think and speak with care. Perhaps we can agree to use our minds the way old-time gold miners used their pans, carefully and calculatingly swirling our ideas around as we search for the specks of gold. Maybe we can speak our words the way we might pick flowers – choosing always the best ones, and passing over the weak and wilting ones. Maybe we can be conscious instead of automatic, wide-awake instead of half-asleep in the dreamland of partially-grown thoughts and fool's gold words.