Friday, March 26, 2010
RECEIVING AND GIVING
I spend much of my classroom time giving ideas to my students, and I try to be a glad and generous giver. Why not, since the ideas were generously given to me? Why shouldn’t I turn right around and happily bestow on my students the ideas that were freely bestowed on me? I didn’t work for my ideas, or discover them, or unearth them, or spend precious time laboring to construct them, so why should I hoard them as though they are mine? The ideas I give to my students are no more mine than the wind and sky is. They come to me the way days come casually along, and I, in turn, pass them along to my students. I find it odd that I sometimes fall under the spell of believing that I personally make, and therefore own, ideas – as though there’s a small idea-generating factory in my head that I personally supervise. When I fall into this dazed and foolish mindset, it’s usually not long before I come to my senses and remember that all the ideas I call “mine” actually first came to me as visitors. In their endless history, these rootless, roving ideas (which is what all ideas are) had previously visited, in one set of clothes or another, zillions of other thinkers, and now they came to me – out of nowhere, you might say. If I welcome the ideas and invite them to stay awhile (and often I don’t), they mix and socialize with other visiting ideas inside me, and thus are transformed somewhat before they pass along to other people (perhaps students) with whom I cone in contact. It’s an everlasting procession of mental visitors – ideas of all shapes and sizes strolling through the world and rapping on the doors of our lives. I just happen to be lucky enough to bestow, in my turn, a few of them on some ready and receptive teenagers each day.