Friday, April 20, 2012


     I have always been taught that trying to be a “perfect” teacher is a prescription for disillusionment, but in the last few years I have come to see it as the road to understanding the real nature of my work. It seems clear to me now that perfection is everywhere, including my classroom. It’s the foundation of everything, the start and finish, the final and irrefutable fact. This moment, this sentence I’m setting down, the words I will speak to my students today, the thoughts the kids will think during class – all is perfection, precision, accomplishment, and excellence. Of course, this completely opposes the widespread belief that perfection is nowhere, is never possible, is nothing but a dream – but still, I stand by my belief in it. I guess it’s a question, for me, of simple humility. Who am I, after all, to pass judgment on the various defects of this or that?  Where do I get the authority and expertise to say that this moment is defective, or that what a student said today is slightly off base, or that what happened in my classroom yesterday was a misfortune? Do I have the universal perspective necessary to say, for certain, that any particular moment is a mistake?  In fact, do I possess the comprehensive wisdom to pass judgment about the inadequacy of anything? Since my answer to the last two questions has become a simple No, I have stopped searching for flaws and failures, and have started accepting the simple rightness, or perfection, of whatever happens. This doesn’t mean I always like what happens – just that I understand that it is what is, and therefore is whole and unblemished just as it is. I believe this somewhat simple view of reality – a view that makes the best sense to me – has made me a better teacher. I now see the correctness in the commonplace things in my classroom – the way a certain student slurs his words, the curious analysis a girl gives when discussing a story, the peaceful feeling of following a student’s words as he describes his ideas. What happens in my classroom is not always what I want, but it seems to me it’s what the Universe wants – and so it needs to be not only accepted but embraced.  I may not always give students A’s on their essays and tests, but they always get A’s from me for the plain and simple suitability of their lives, just as they are. 

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