Saturday, October 16, 2010

Blowing Leaves or Smooth Machine

Watching the fall leaves taking flight and scattering across the streets of my New England village today helped me understand something about myself – that I’d like to teach more like blustering leaves than a steady machine. I loved seeing the spirited movements of the leaves in today’s winds, as though they were full of honest and spontaneous get-up-and-go and were simply expressing their instinctive leafyness. I know they’re just dead leaves drifting around in a purposeless way, but they brought an important truth to mind about my work with students – that throwing aside carefulness occasionally and just moving freely through lessons like leaves on the streets would tell the students that their teacher takes looseness and spontaneity seriously. I don’t want the students to see a machine called a teacher in the front of the room, faking it as a bona fide person and being merely a mechanism that moves through lessons like a lifeless apparatus. Of course, I do have to have detailed plans prepared for each class, but there have to be times, too, when the plans are put aside in favor of a little liberty and even foolishness for a few minutes. There’s something reassuring about a teacher taking off his formality for a time and treating himself and his students to some short-term fun. It seems, once again, that the teacher is one of us, simply a person sharing, with pleasure, the honest-to-goodness spirit of his life.

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