Sunday, February 14, 2010


The other day, as I was pondering the old maxim “it’s only a game”, I was reminded that teaching is better pictured that way. In fact, I think the surest way to achieve true contentment is to view my classroom work not just as a game, but as a friendly, pleasant spectator sport, where I am both an active player and a bemused fan. Instead of seeing myself as part of an intensely serious contest, the results of which carry life-or-death implications, I need to occasionally step back and be an observer of the light-hearted game called education. I need to see my little “self” down there in the playing field of my classroom, dashing here and there, performing weird and wonderful feats, or just temporarily convalescing on the “bench” (my chair at my desk). I should cheer, boo, sigh, scream, or applaud for my “self” and the other players (my students), all the while remaining at ease and satisfied because, after all, it’s only a game. With that kind of a distant eyewitness viewpoint, I would, perhaps, eventually come to realize that all my daily doings and goings-on as a teacher, all my earnest endeavors and pursuits in the classroom, all my seemingly serious thoughts and aspirations about being the best teacher I can possibly be, are, in fact, merely part of a highly entertaining game – a game in which there are no losers. (The inventor and referee of the game is the Universe, and it only allows winning. Unfortunately, many of the contestants don’t realize that.) If something “bad” happens to my "self "– a boring class, an irate parent, a principal gone haywire — oh well, it’s just a game, and anyway, eventually I’ll see my self (and all my teammates and competitors) holding up the cup of victory, as usual. Sooner or later I’ll see, once more, that winning is the only possible outcome for the game of education, and that even failure, oddly enough, is a victory for learning. I’ll sit back, get out my binoculars, and continue watching Hamilton Salsich – so distant, small, and beautiful in this measureless arena owned by the Universe – playing the game of teaching in his intense, comfortable, and buoyant way.

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