Saturday, February 27, 2010

When the student is ready the teacher appears...

What an enchanting verse! Indeed, in my life it has happened over and over. I have needed and/or appreciated all the teachers I've had the fortune to experience. They range in age from a very premature baby, to an elderly gentleman still lucid, though deaf, at age 105. Hundreds, no thousands, perhaps millions have gifted me with insight... often by word, other times by action, and sometimes just by their presence. To all I am eternally grateful.

Not all my teachers were two legged. I have learned much from trees about taking a stand, sheltering others, being flexible in tough times yet willing to allow for new growth when situations beyond our control prune us back. A tree does not live its life differently according to the advance of age, it just follows its original instructions and behaves like the tree it is supposed to be, nor do they feel the need to compare themselves to others. Their magnificence is obvious to us and as such they offer wisdom through their example. If we are lucky enough, they speak directly to our spirit.

I have even learned compassion from the lowly Box Elder bug, upside down and wiggling for all its worth hoping, somehow, to right itself and move on without harm. This drama played out on the back of the sink as I prepared to spray cleaner and wipe the surfaces down. I looked at the bug and was prompted to consider times in my life when I'd been flipped over on my metaphoric back and felt rather insignificant in the scope of things. Would it make a difference if I just wiped the bug along and cast it out with the dirty paper towel? Would it weaken me to care about this bug enough to lift it up in my hand and move it outside? It says a lot about a person when they are given the opportunity to care about something or someone insignificant and rise to the occasion. Some have a word for that... sappy... while others see it as a spiritual experience.

It is both lovely and loving that nature teaches us in so many ways. We do not live upon an inert blue ball floating through space. Quite the contrary, we are part of all that surrounds us, good and not so good. Everything touches us and we touch everything. We are students, learning according to our ability to remain open minded, and at the same time we are teachers in ways we may not even realize, to those we may not even be aware we are touching.

I am tickled by the fact that I have arrived at the noontime of my life deeply rooted in education and finally be able to have earned the title "teacher;" bringing all I have experienced to the table and offering my humble insight to those who turn a willing ear. My story may not have the shine of fame, or the luster of a world traveler, but like every person I. too, have something to share. I still have a long way to go and much to see and experience. In contrast, my newest teachers are my students. They put up with my first year efforts (in a self contained jr. high room) to change the world through education. They let me flounder when I refuse to teach directly from textbooks and find my self using up all my available time trying to figure out how to avoid the usual command like, "please turn to page such and such, read to page such a such, and answer the questions at the end of the chapter." I want us to interact, to struggle for understanding together, to be a community within a community and care enough to help each other out. We are a patchwork quilt, each fabric different but all part of a bigger design.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Winter daydreams near the cusp of spring...

I scan for signs of spring but all I behold is white, pure white as far as the eye can see with only random skeletons of dormant trees and the tallest plants and sturdiest of grasses poking above the snow as if to indicate they still remain in spite of it all... and so do I. This winter has been long and cold. I have yet to walk on the earth, and instead are kept at length by a deep, frozen barrier. I yearn to feel that gentle touch of new grass, the whisper of soft breezes, see life return after the long slumber.

That reminds me of how I talk to children about seasons. I explain that in the fall the trees drop their leaves as they start to fall asleep, and all winter long the energy goes back into the earth and they sleep until the warmer weather wakes them up and growth returns to the land. Robert Frost knew about that return when he penned, "Spring's first green is gold." So true, as all shoots and leaves emerge golden until the sun coaxes the more verdant hue. Trees don't mind being woken, they don't complain, nor do plants whine and refuse to grow. They respect their Original Instructions and do what they are created to do.

Hmm, if people would only take the plant world's example! We are closer to the land than we realize. Winter is our time to become dormant, to lie fallow. No wonder I feel so lazy and sluggish at times.
I know I will feel so energized by the advent of spring. I need to reserve my energy and allow myself to have time to mend the frazzled nerves. Perhaps I should not be so hard on myself when I occasionally want to give in to the lure of winter daydreams.