The courage to teach

Bird Droppings March 12, 2010
The courage to teach

“Teaching, like any truly human activity, emerges from one’s inwardness, for better or for worse. As I teach, I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subjects, and our way of being together. The entanglements I experience in the classroom are often no more or less than the convolutions of my inner life. Viewed from this angle teaching holds a mirror to the soul.” Parker Palmer, The Courage to teach

Perhaps some teachers might not need to go to work some days. As I began reading Palmers book this idea of a mirror image of an inward look ties in with ideas of my own of trust, of building a comfort zone with students. Then as I look beyond teaching is this not true for every aspect of our lives, teacher or not. Should we each not be going further than simple existence? Palmer describes the process as coming from within. Palmer uses the word project and truly we do project our inner selves as we walk through life.
Are we comfortable with who we are and where we are? Daily I will find people who are seeking answers sometimes to only very simple questions and other times more perplexing and deep. It is this process of looking for answers that builds us into who we are. It is this process of inquiring that adds to our ability to deal with and go beyond daily issues. It is taking what seemingly is defeat and turning that into victory.

“It goes on one at a time, it starts when you care to act, it starts when you do it again after they said no, it starts when you say we and know who you mean, and each day you mean more.” Marge Piercy, The low road

I went to a landscape companies display area the other day. They specialize in aquatic landscape design, waterfalls, fountains, stone work and ponds. Sitting by their office door is a boulder with a hole drilled in it and a fountain bubbling out of the hole. This package is $1550.00 installed according to the sign attached. Next to the price is what constitutes the fountain, its ingredients so to say, 250 pounds of river rock, 200 pounds colored crushed lava rock, a drilled boulder, pond liner, ten landscape timbers, 1000 pounds crushed granite and a pump kit. Many pieces make the whole.
I was amazed by the simple fountain and how peaceful it was, water bubbling out of a rock flowing over into the river stones. It was in part a sum of its parts and pieces and within a pump kit pushed the water and created the package. Yet without the boulder it would have been only a bubbling in a pile of rocks. We are each of us similar. We are pieces of a whole and inside a driving force as Palmer uses the word soul and heart interchangeably in his book. If that pump stopped working on that simple fountain all effect is gone nothing but a big rock is left. We need maintenance on our heart and not just our physical heart, our emotional heart so that that fountain flows and the entire package has meaning. As we go out in our day, please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

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