Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Led by Nature

On the long drive to school this morning, I fell in behind a truck bearing the logo, “Led by Nature,” and fairly quickly I thought, “ That’s what I should be in the classroom.” I’m all too often led by my personal and usually small-minded ideas about how to do this and why to do that, and all I get out of that leadership is what seems to me to be pretty superficial results. On the surface, I guess I accomplish a fair amount in my classes, but underneath, where soul-shaking learning occurs, my personal kind of management doesn’t have much of an effect. While I’m pursuing my individual goals on the outside, on the inside the students’ lives probably continue to move along on their unchanged paths. I long ago realized that I do my best teaching when I get myself out of the way – when I’m rather modestly following the lead of what I might call inspirations, or flashes, or revelations. Old-time poets spoke of listening to the Muse while they were writing, and perhaps that’s what I’m experiencing when my teaching is on-target – the sway and influence of ideas that simply don’t seem to have come from inside me. Maybe it’s nature, or the universe, or even what some people call “God”, but whatever label we choose to place on it, it’s a forceful presence beside me when my teaching is going well. It’s like there’s no Mr. Salsich anymore – just teaching and learning. It’s like the teacher had disappeared into the wind, and only the wind is blowing.

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