“From within or from behind, a light shines through us and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light is all.”
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Over-Soul”
The fact that I am nothing is not to be overlooked as I look ahead to the start of another school year. Mind you, I am neither a masochist nor a particularly self-denigrating person, but I know, in my heart, that I am the best teacher I can be when I fully understand that “the light is all” and little me is mighty far back in the background. As I stand before my students next week, I will be as small as a single star in a universe of trillions of stars – just one of the immeasurable influences that will flow past my students in their young lives. Somehow they will learn and grow, but to attribute any of that to someone named Hamilton Salsich is like saying the sunlight on one stone made the sunlight on the stone next to it. As Emerson knew, “the light is all”. I receive the light of learning from somewhere, and so do my students, and somehow it all blends and breaks out into new knowledge for all of us. Teachers, myself included, all too often get into giving themselves center-stage in a process where there is actually no stage and no center. Learning happens like wind happens, and where it comes from and what caused it will stay a secret forever. I am part of the wind – or light – of learning, but so is absolutely everything else in this beyond-belief universe, including my students, the sunshine on their desks, the people they passed in the hall, and the songs they may hear in their hearts while I’m standing before them in Room 2.