Thursday, June 24, 2010
WITH OR WITHOUT ME
It’s good for me to recall, now and then, that vast amounts of learning take place in my classes without my help. I usually have a fairly self-important and pushy attitude toward teaching, which makes me somewhat like a man who walks through a day’s sunshine and thinks he’s causing all the brightness. My bright students are receiving the lights of learning moment by moment, no matter what I’m saying or doing, and yet it’s so easy to imagine that I’m the source of it all, the central place from which all learning in 9th grade English radiates. It easy to think that no education takes place without my professional assistance, and yet trainloads of new knowledge, of which I am totally unaware, pass through my students’ lives during a given 48-minute class. This realization is good for me, because it relieves me of some of the weighty sense of duty and dependability we teachers often lug around. It reminds me that the sea of learning is far vaster than earth’s oceans, and that I am a mere ripple in that sea, a supportive but minuscule stream in the endless currents of schooling. It’s comforting to sit silently in my classroom after school and think about the many useful truths -- hundreds of them, no doubt -- that my students learned today with no crucial assistance from me. Actually, when life seems burdensome and bewildering, I often gain reassurance from simply imagining all the marvelous events that are taking place without my help. While I’m fretting over what steps I can take to heal my seemingly troublesome life, all over the earth hearts are beating, leaves are springing into life, light is falling on flowers, forests are standing just as they should, silence and peace is coming into uneasy lives – and all with absolutely no steps being taken by Mr. Salsich. It’s somehow inspiring to me, this small fact of the grandness and inescapable success of all things. The universe will stride splendidly onward, with or without me – and so will my students.