Ralph Waldo always has a few choice words

Bird Droppings September 19, 2011
Ralph Waldo always has a few choice words

“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him with his friendship.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

A seemingly simple thought as I work in a world or class room where trust is a perishable commodity and most do not trust. It is far too easy to extend a hand or simply smile and act the part. I have found trust comes when a student knows they can call you when a problem arises on your cell phone and you will answer trust begins when you say hello.

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not been discovered.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

So often we hear of saving the rain forests to find the cure for cancer and other ailments of mankind which is actually a true statement as many of most recent cures and research is coming from plants and animals of the tropics. Often the weed could be even closer to home as I can attest too in my herb garden outside my window. My first thought was to a visit to a mountain museum and a lecture by the late curator and his vast knowledge of mountain folk medicine. Every plant had a use and a cure for something. Each twig, piece of bark and leave could work on or with and cure or assist in curing aliments.
But actually when I read this quote I was not thinking of Sean Connery in Medicine Man in the Amazon jungles and or of the late Robert Murray at the Foxfire museum. I was thinking of students. Each student comes to us a weed in a sense the baggage of others perceptions wrapped tightly around them. When reading every note and referral placed in their folder for the next person to assume this kid has issues far too often we do assume. I was thinking over the weekend as I had a frustrating day with several of my students in Out of school and or In school suspension. Each had serious emotional issues and each had antecedents to behaviors that caused their consequences. Seems I can always fall back on ABC, a good behavioral term, Antecedent Behavior and Consequence. But as I thought of how we so often address our perception of that behavior and antecedent as the teacher and seldom review the students perspective we create a weed rather than looking for virtues. We push aside so quickly because it will take time to cultivate and propagate that virtue more often than not, not an easy task.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Why is it we so often choose to see through others eyes accepting the precepts of others and not taking the time to really know someone? Buried deep within who knows what we may find? It has been a number of years since a bedraggled student who in the first four or so days I was teaching never raised his head. I took in Dylan Thomas as an example of a poet and was reading aloud, he sat up, listened and asked me to read another paragraph or two and then asked to borrow the book. He read it cover to cover over the weekend. While this student probably has lived up to the expectations of many with several jail sentences and such to his credit and even now at twenty six or so he still keeps in contact and will ask about new authors to read I always wish hopefully one day some of it will sink in and cultivate the pieces.

“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Who knows what great poet philosopher and future wise person is now being misunderstood? Each day as I meet new students I hope I will let them be who they really are and not a figment of my own perception and imagination. I will let them come to realization of their own humanity and understanding. Sitting here early in the morning idealizing my own philosophical views on education and pondering who is the teacher and who is the student please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts.

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