Friday, September 21, 2012


To me, one of the most troublesome hazards in my work as a teacher is the tendency to personalize it – to make it an enterprise involving many separate students and a single, separate teacher. When I personalize the situation in my classroom, I turn it into a sort of competition to see which “person” can perform best. I see the teaching and learning as proceeding from the energies of individual persons, and since these persons have definite limitations, I see the teaching and learning as being constrained, unfinished, and always somehow unsatisfactory. Looked at from a personalized standpoint, the process of education becomes a contest among flawed, deficient people to see how much less flawed and deficient they can become. On the other hand, if I maintain a de-personalized mindset about my work, I can see it as the unfolding, not of separate and meager minds, but of the measureless universe itself. After all, my students and I are not separate from the whole, glorious cosmos. The same force that makes rivers run and stars shine is relentlessly at work in my classroom. I can pretend that my students and I are doing this educational work by ourselves, but the truth is that all of creation is doing it with us, to us, and through us. The stars are speeding along, leaves are descending, and teaching and learning is unrolling in Room 2 in a tiny school by the shore – all part of the boundless and sweet work of the universe. There's nothing personal about it.

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