Sunday, May 08, 2011


"Market Zinnias", oil, by Elizabeth Fraser
My 2nd grader grandson is studying rocks in his classroom, and it has started me thinking about the good uses of pressure. After all, many rocks we see today in our forests and fields were formed under intense and long-lasting pressure. I want to be sure to talk with Noah about that, perhaps to help him see in his mind the image of immensely powerful forces pushing down on rocks for eons, slowly shifting them into what they are today. If rocks could speak, they might say thanks to the steady pressure that produced them. Also, what about the small seeds that will make zinnia blossoms prosper in my garden this summer? The package suggests that a “firm tapping” – or pressure -- on the covering soil will send the seeds off to a good start, implying that pressure can create loveliness. And don’t we all live under a perfect amount of air pressure, which enables oxygen to push into our lungs and let our lives renew themselves? How fast we would die if this concentrated pressure didn’t persist, second by second! I guess what all this means -- for me, at least -- is that a reasonable but relentless pressure is good for my students, just as it is for rocks and seeds and lungs. When the students sweat under the load of my lessons and assignments, when they beseechingly ask me to lower the pressure somewhat, when it seems to them like letting-up and easing-off will never come, maybe I should tell them about rocks and zinnia seeds and the good air that’s always effortlessly flowing into their lungs.

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