Sunday, December 13, 2009
GIVING IT ALL AWAY
More and more, teaching seems to me to be all about giving – but I didn’t always feel this way. For the first many years of my teaching career, I was more interested in keeping than in giving. I wanted to keep my reputation as a good teacher, keep control of the class, keep the students on the straight path of my lesson, and keep my pride and dignity. Because I was devoted to hanging on, holding on, saving, and retaining, giving didn’t often enter into my thoughts. How can you hold on and give away at the same time? Now – although I’m not sure how it happened – my thinking has gradually reversed itself. Now it seems foolish to me to try to keep anything back in the classroom, mostly because it doesn’t bring any rewards. Holding back brings only feelings of stiffness, tightfistedness, and smallness, and what I want is the opposite – openness and largeness. After four decades in the classroom, I’m more or less through with holding back. I’m about done with the pride, fear, and self-importance that caused me to hold back for all those years. Before I call it quits, I’m interested in discovering just how big this thing called teaching really is, and I can do that only by giving everything away in each class. For some weird reason, the more I give away, the farther out the boundaries of teaching seem to get, so I’m giving it all away in every class. In Room 2, it’s a totally free yard sale, day after day.