Saturday, May 22, 2010

Carrying All of Us

Over the years (centuries, I guess), much has been written about the importance of experiencing the “flow” of life, and lately, as May has generously blossomed around my school’s campus, I’ve been feeling some of that flow in my teaching. I guess I’m seeing more clearly that teaching English, or any subject, is a lot like floating down a stream that’s as widespread as the sea – not just an English class stream, but a stream sent from the universe. All school subjects, all things to be learned, all events, all thoughts, all thrills and sorrows are in this stream that my students and I are flowing with. In this stream there’s no separate course called English -- not even, strange as it sounds, any separate students and teachers. It’s all one, this stream, and it contains all the creations and gifts of the universe, and we are among them, my spirited teenage students and their somewhat shriveled but still fervent teacher. This is the flow I’ve been feeling each day lately – the endless coursing of the universe right through my classroom. Sure, it’s convenient to say that I’m a separate teacher, that my subject is separate from all others, and that my students are detached and distinct individuals, but the truth is stranger and more marvelous. Every word we say in my classroom rolls out, in due course, to the ends of the world, and every sentence that students in far off places speak somehow draws close to us on Barnes Road in Connecticut. When it comes to learning, all boundaries are illusions. We teachers work with thoughts in class, and thoughts easily stream through and over any make-believe boundary lines. These days the graceful flow of May’s breezes has made it easy for me to forget struggling and striving to be a super-teacher, and instead, to just ease back and be part of the insistent stream of learning that’s carrying all of us who knows where.

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