Why does it take courage to teach?

Bird Droppings August 14, 2013
Why does it take courage to teach?

It has been several years’ back a tradition was started in my home town of Coatesville Pennsylvania. I recall an email about the event. One of the members of our high school graduating class lost his daughter to cancer a few years back and in memory the following has happened. Perhaps it is with our own loss at our high school of a dear friend last year and a staff member who just recently flew to California to be with her daughter diagnosed with cancer and seven months pregnant that brought this to mind a bit early. So I am starting day one not with roses but Dunkin Donuts for my advisement with the admonition to spread the joy and thought today the first day of school. My good friend Greg DePedro owns Coatesville Flower as did his father. My father for our entire stay in Coatesville twenty plus years bought his flowers for staff at his office and my mother there.

“August 22 is here and just a reminder that you can participate and honor Lisa DePedro’s memory and “Do Something Nice for Someone Today”. Pick up a dozen roses (they’re free) at Coatesville Flower Shop on Saturday. Keep one for yourself and give the other 11 to people who need something nice done for them. Each rose takes with it Lisa’s legacy, her love of life. If you can’t share this day with Greg and Dorrie in person, please remember them in your prayers as well as all parents who have had to bury their children. Bring your smiles and hugs and help carry them through the day.” Suzanne Kish Cook, Scottclass67

I am ahead of the game this year. In the past I would be looking for food for thought and find that note from many years back and write the morning of so today I am giving advanced warning. We start a new week and school year today and August twenty second is next Thursday. What if we all take that day to honor someone in our lives? It could be flowers granted it is a long drive to Coatesville but wildflowers work just as good. What about simply a smile or kind word. If we all could do this next week and the next day and the next would be brighter days for many people as each will receive a blessing. This morning as I picked up a few things and went to Dunkin Donuts I knew there was a reason. I will pick up some roses at Kroger next Thursday in honor of Lisa I will do my share come next week and maybe even start early today why wait.
Over the years I have found authors from numerous sources professors, friends and family. This was one shared with me by a professor at Piedmont College nearly eleven years ago. Earlier today I shared with a colleague as we messaged on Facebook about this author.

“As good teachers weave the fabric that joins them with students and subjects, the heart is the loom on which the threads are tied, the tension is held, the shuttle flies, and the fabric is stretched tight. Small wonder, then that teaching tugs at the heart, opens the heart, even breaks the heart–and the more one loves teaching, the more heartbreaking it can be. The courage to teach is the courage to keep one’s heart open in those very moments when the heart is asked to hold more than it is able so that teacher and students and subject can be woven into the fabric of community that learning and living, require.” Parker Palmer

Often as I read I will be struck by words of an author that hit home, Parker Palmer has done that with this passage. In his book “The Courage to teach” I find so many instances and ideas that hit home. I had an instant this past week that stretched the fabric of my own teaching and each day as I read responses from other teachers, students and friends to Bird Droppings. But fortunately there is also resilience in the fabric and even when stretched to its limits the fibers are always able to reconnect and remake anew.
Somewhere in my closet or cedar chest is a pair of jeans from the old days, back in the day as my youngest son says. My tattered thread bare hippie bell bottom jeans from wearing nearly daily, this is before the day of having numerous pairs of jeans from designers and such that are distressed. I had two pair one on me and one waiting to be washed. My old jeans are patched embroidered and barely still jeans. Nowadays kids buy them already done and pre-worn for hundreds of dollars. My jeans earned every split and tear and every patch that covers a hole from experience.
Teaching is very much like my old jeans. You can attend a wonderful college and be taught by the greatest group of professors among the entire human race which is sort of like buying the jeans with holes in already. Of course when someone asks where did that hole come from or this one and the response is I bought them that way and usually the conversation ends. But when you say, well that hole, and go into a story about when I was hiking in North Carolina and one of my students chose to go down a wrong path and as I pulled them to safety I got hung on a green briar. Conversations start, ideas start, and life moves forward. I still cherish each piece of wisdom and knowledge learned in college but the real education begins when we share and experience life.
In so many aspects of life it is on the shop floor where you learn, it is in the doing. The most beautiful Navaho blanket is only a wall hanging till it keeps someone warm at night, and then it is a blanket. Hand out a few flowers or smiles or kind words this week and next week and think of the loved ones you are missing or apart from and brighten someone else’s day and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

For my relations
Wa de (Skee)

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