Friday, December 31, 2010
IDEAS AND SNOWFLAKES
I spend way too much time admiring the importance of my own ideas, especially in my teaching. Sometimes I spend more than a few minutes praising myself for the marvelous ideas that made a successful lesson, as if the ideas are heroes I hold in high esteem. When a little idea of mine makes a big mark in the classroom, I often can’t get over how fortunate I am to have such super ideas. However, when I’m thinking clearly, I see with total certainty that my ideas are no more significant or long lasting than the snowflakes falling past my window just now. As a friend occasionally reminds me, “They’re just ideas, Ham. They’re not things, just ideas” – and, he might as well add, they come and go like gusts of wind on winter days. An idea that seemed so special after Tuesday’s successful lesson vanishes into nothingness by Thursday. Fortunately, this is true of troublesome ideas as well as inspiring ones. If the idea that I’m a lousy teacher comes along, well, it’s just an idea, and, if I let it alone, it will disappear just as surely as the snowflake that swayed past my window a moment ago. If worrisome ideas make me think I’ve lost my students forever, those, too, will soften and dissolve, just as this snow will when forty-degree days come along later this week. They’re just ideas. Not heroes and not enemies. Just rootless, transient, and – if I simply smile at them -- thoroughly harmless ideas.