Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Wed, 18 Jul 2001 10:29:18 -0400 (EDT)
Random Thought:"How Do you Really Think About Teaching"

I arrived home Sunday night to find a challenging e-mail waiting for me. It was from an education major at a northwestern university, who had been reading my stuff on the website. It was the first time she had contacted me. But, what a first time. She threw a gauntlet down at my virtual feet. "How do you really think about teaching?" she asked.

Not, "what," but "how." Great challenge!! She's got me brooding about it these past few days.

"How do you really think about teaching?" It is important question, you know. How do I think about teaching? Maybe "dream" is a better word than "think." That's for another time. Anyway, how? Intuitively. Meditatively. Secretly. Privately. Silently. When I am walking; when I am flying alone to or from a workshop, address, or conference; when I am silently driving with my angelic Susan sleeping in the seat next to me; when I am quietly sipping a pre-dawn cup of coffee or early dusk glass of wine by the fish pond.

It's those swim deep "below the waterline" moments when I am most open to myself and most closed to others. I have to watch out for those little, unnoticed whispers to myself about teaching--or anything else in life for that matter. I have thousands upon thousands upon thousands of thoughts each day. The most important are not the surrogate quotes pasted on my office door or written each day on the blackboard as the guiding "words of the day" or exchanged during e-mail and on-campus discussions, or even a shared Random Thought.

No, the most revealing one are the most hidden, the unmasked ones, the unguarded one, the ones I privately say to myself where no one can hear, those silent, free-roaming, soul-storming exposures, uncensored by logic or criticism or judgement. The ones that let the whole sense of the situation speak are especially important. More so are the ones that generate an intuitive response. Even more are so the ones that trigger a dialogue with myself. They are all so very important; they are sidewalk peepholes into the goings-on in my soul. Like it or not, conscious or otherwise, they are the true source of an essential chain reaction that emerges from the private to the public, from thought to action. They are my true attitudes; and, my attitudes will determine my actions; and, my actions will determine my habits; and, my habits will determine my character; and, my character will determine my relationships.

The real questions should be "Do I learned to listen and listen to what is splashing around inside?" Do I not just hear, but listen to what I am really saying. Do I not just look, but have learned to and see what is really there inside me? Do I smell and feel whatever is in these depths. Do I take in? Do I follow Saint Francis' petition to understand what must be dealt with? Do I accept?

My authenticity is not, however, when I withdraw; it is when I deliberately brave the return with my inner voice. It is when I dare to open my closedness. It is when I speak and act "above the waterline" from "below the waterline."

Some would say that is impolitic or impulsive, or impetuous, or just plain impish. I find most students don't think so. They don't want snappy proclamations or tailored conversations or guarded statements too often handed out on a dish like some PR release for public consumption, They and a lot of others most crave and most appreciate, when, to quote Popeye, the Sailorman, "youse gets what youse sees," as I find the daring, strength, and courage to let go, to be public with these private whispers, to let them be an open secret, to be honest, to be sincere, to be real.

And it has taken me many a struggling year during many a private and often not very comfortable discussion with myself on many a flight, drive, sitting, and walk to get this far on the journey.

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
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                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
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