July 14     

Today's quotation:

True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.

Nikos Kazantzakis

Today's Meditation:

It's very difficult being a teacher in a society that expects all students to have the same outcomes, the same knowledge base, the same skill sets.  Teachers should be people who inspire their students to become themselves, to pursue their unique goals using their unique abilities; unfortunately, we don't seem to want teachers to be bridges that students can cross over, but robots who are to treat all students the same while giving them all the exact same material in the exact same doses.

If we want to teach, we need to let go of the need to see results that we expect, and embrace results that are unique to the human beings with whom we're working.  I don't want my students to become like me or know exactly what I know-- I want them to forge their own paths and make their own discoveries, and I sincerely hope that they find many things that I've missed.  I can help them to get to the new things that they might not have discovered without a bit of help, but once I do that then they should be on their own, or at least moving on to another teacher who can help them in ways that are different from the ways I can help.

Teaching is about letting go, though unfortunately many teachers see it as an exercise in control.  It's not about control at all, though, except possibly in a classroom management sense-- it's about lighting a fire and then letting the candle burn in whatever way is best for the candle, not in the way I want it to burn.

We've all learned some wonderful things in our lives, and it's up to us to pass those on to others, becoming teachers even though our vocation may be something else.  When we teach, though, we need to be respectful of the people whom we're trying to teach.  We need to let them be themselves and to deal with what we're teaching on their own terms.  Even if they reject it, that's okay-- they're probably just not ready yet to learn it.  Let us become a bridge, and not build walls that keep them from seeing further, beyond us.  They need to see there.

Questions to consider:

Why do so may people think that teaching is about control?

What kinds of teaching do you do?  For whom?

How can you instill compassion into your teaching when the opportunity to teach comes along?

For further thought:

An understanding heart is everything in a teacher, and cannot be esteemed highly enough.  One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feeling.  The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.

Carl Jung

more on teaching



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