“The weaker I get, the stronger I become.” -- 2 Corinthians 12:10
It’s a strange paradox that the more I feel like a failure as a teacher, the better teacher I become. I’ve seen it happen over and over. When I end a school day feeling like this teaching thing is just too complex, too immense, too mysterious for little, ill-informed me, I almost always do some of my best teaching the next day. I go from total lack of confidence one day to a strange kind of supreme coolness and self-assurance the next. Perhaps what happens is that, by realizing that I can’t possibly, by myself, understand the intricacies of teaching another human being, I become aware, once again, of another, much higher power, that can do this. By getting my “self” out of the way, I make room for the boundless, all-powerful intelligence (some people call it God) that’s available to all of us. By feeling completely power-less, I enable myself to feel the power-full nature of the measureless and wise universe I live in. I guess I should be thankful for those disastrous days when nothing goes right in my classroom, for those are the days when I am being taught the most momentous lesson of all – the great truth that I can do nothing by myself. Those bad days remind me that a teacher is like a man sailing a small boat in a brisk, inconstant wind. If he tries to control the wind, to do all the sailing by himself, to literally push and pull his boat across the water, he will inescapably start to feel unskilled and hopeless. But that’s precisely when he might, if he is lucky, be able to get his little, isolated ego out of the way and recognize the immense power – the wind – that’s ready to help him, ready, in fact, to do all the work. That’s when he finds that sailing can be an utterly soothing sport. I want to understand that the same is true of the superb sport of teaching.