Monday, February 06, 2012


After a colleague stopped in to visit one of my classes recently and said, “There’s a lot of intelligence in this room,” I began to wonder exactly where that intelligence exists. The easy answer is that it exists in the brains of the students and me, but that’s like saying the sunshine on my windowsill exists in the windowsill. I guess, like most of us, I pretend to accept the conventional view that thoughts are made by the small series of ashen tissues inside my skull, but I hold in my heart a wonderful and irrefutable fact – that intelligence is far too vast to reside inside any small space, or in any space whatsoever. Intelligence, to me, seems as widespread as the stars above us, as immeasurable as the winds across the earth. Intelligence isn’t just thoughts thrown together by a brain; it’s the unceasing force that fashions all things – thoughts, brains, and the beautiful sky I saw yesterday at sunset. Sometimes, when I’m startled by the ideas my students share in class (which is almost constantly), I feel as though some powerful influence has just passed among us – as if we’re afloat on a stream of understanding. During class I often wonder, “Where did that idea come from?” and the answer that usually comes to me is something like “Somewhere distant but close beside us, somewhere immense but as small as the sounds of our spoken words.”

No comments: