Saturday, June 04, 2011


I often fall into the odd belief that what I accomplish in the classroom is dependent only on me, forgetting the wonderful fact that everything in the universe depends on everything else. Every sentence I say to the students, every glance and gesture and shift of my arms, comes about because countless other things came about. Even in the minutes preceding any class, dozens of miniscule events occur that can cause what happens in the class to alter ever so slightly. A sip of fine coffee coupled with some strange, accidental thoughts and a few words from a friend as the students enter could shift my lesson a shade this way or that. It’s actually somewhat uncanny to consider the innumerable numbers of occurrences that lead up to every event in one of my classes. Any words I speak in class wouldn’t have occurred to me if some event called A hadn’t happened, and A wouldn’t have happened if B and C hadn’t happened, and B and C wouldn’t have happened if D, E, F, G, and H hadn’t happened … and on and on back to who knows where. The fact is that everything’s contingent on everything else. I would have no chance of being a good teacher today if a few zillion things hadn’t occurred in precisely the correct way – including my mom falling in love with Pete Salsich, the doctor delivering me successfully, the sun shining a certain way on some day in ’67, the egg-whites and blueberry bagel this morning making a flawless breakfast -- all of which reveals teaching as the irrepressible, chancy, and exhilarating enterprise it truly is.

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