Friday, October 22, 2010

The Big Bang and Me

When I get confused and downcast about my teaching, it sometimes helps to remember that all the atoms in my body were brought into being by the “big bang” many billions of years in the past. Fantastic as it seems, scientists say that all matter was made those many eons ago, and that I am composed of atoms that have made a magnificent journey from that original explosion, circulating through countless material forms and eventually finding the form called “Hamilton Salsich”. Inside me, while I’m fussing about whether I taught the use of prepositions properly enough, atoms from the unimaginable past are performing their tasks with inconceivable precision. It’s as if I have a universe inside me, one that’s as old as the oldest star, and one that’s been dancing, in one form or another, for around fifteen billion years. When a lesson breaks down almost before it starts, or when the students seem miles away in daydreams during a Shakespeare discussion, it helps to remember what’s really happening – that right here in the midst of my tedious lesson, immeasurable numbers of atoms are staging an unseen but astonishing show. My seemingly wearisome words, the students’ lassitude, the featureless fluorescent lighting, all are part of a performance the universe has been masterminding for what might as well be forever. It’s not about me and some kids and prepositions and Shakespeare; it’s about atoms as old as stars spinning ceaselessly and flawlessly around in a place in the limitless universe called a classroom.

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