Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Wed 9/18/2002 5:35 AM
Random Thought: To Believe Is To See

Here I am at a B & B in Clarion, Pennsylvania. It's 3:30 a.m., Saturday. I think it's the 14th. Not sure. Can't sleep. Mind is racing. Too blasted cold to walk. 39 degrees!! No coffee in the room. Yuk!! Getting ready to wind up my workshop on teaching at the university this morning. Sitting down to share later:

I think I'm going to tie everything up with some exercises that focus on the same two words with which I began: "why" and "see." Why a "why?" Because without a conscious and reflective and authentic "why" for what you're doing, without a dream, without a vision, you are uncommitted, aimless, adrift, lethargic. Why a "see?" Because the problem with so much of education is not fad, gadget, gimmick, technology, or methodology. The problem is seeing. It's a problem of seeing who is inside and who is out there. And, the solution lies within each of us, now, today, each day.

You know that old saying, "seeing is believing." I think whoever first coined that phrased got it wrong. At least, I'd like to change it around. I think it should read: "believing is seeing." For me, that's more accurate because wherever I go, my belief is there. Because over the past decade, I have discovered that as I believe, so it will be. I discovered that if I was to change what I was doing, I had to change who I was; and if I was to change who I was, I had to change what I believed. And, I discovered that as I changed what I believed, I began to see differently; and as I began to see differently, it came full circle. I changed what I was doing. Because over the past decade I have found that as I believed that there are a host of sacred persons in the classroom waiting to be discovered, I sought out that sacredness and saw it. I slowed down, overlooked less, looked and heard more, saw and listened more. I worked, worked hard, still do, to discard the habit of inattentiveness.

Believe and you will have the courage to ask the vital question, "who are you?" You ask not to get the answer as much as to make you first mindful of your own feelings and thoughts. The question means how and why am I going to establish a relationship with both this person. It also asks whether I am willing to acknowledge and have a relationship with this person. And, you will be in quest for the authentic and not settle for superficial gloss. You will be a constant question mark, moving in wonder and awe of each student from question to question. To believe is to really look for and really see a student rather than be captured by judgemental images about him or her, and to see a bit more accurately what and who is really there. Believe and you will struggle to miss nothing and notice everything that is pulsating beneath the surface.

To believe is to see each student's individuality, each's identity, each's uniqueness, and to see how deeply you must value these differences. And as I came to believe over the past decade, I discovered that the ruins became beautiful, the unimaginative imaginative, the soulless soulful, the mindless mindful, the numb feeling, the powerless powerful. As I began to understand that "the secret" lay within, as I began to believe my imagination fired up, and as my imagination fired up, my heart and soul and body followed. It meant letting a wonder and awareness of each student percolate and bubble to the surface and seep into my thoughts, feelings, and actions. I believe that if you believe in that sacredness of the individual, you will see things and people who weren't there before, doors will open that were closed before, and "unseen hands" will appear to guide you.

So, each day I pack and re-pack by bags for the journey. I practice. I practice unlearning, learning, relearning. I practice breaking old, sleeply habits and making new, awakened habits. I practice not as a rehersal of something to do, but someone to be. I practice awakefulness. Each day, I travel my own yet undiscovered inner geography. Each day, I practice the art of intention and curiosity. Each day, I practice imagining and re-imagining. Each day I practice, if I remember my Jon Kabat-Zinn, a "mindfulness." Each day I practice paying attention and not falling into the abyss of the sleeping, stuck, straitjacketing automatic and unconsciousness. Each day I practice an open openness and not falling prey to my own closed likes and dislikes, opinions, biases, expectations. Each day, in the spirit of Emerson and Thoreau, I practice awareness and discernment of the present moment. Each day I practice heartfulness. Each day I practice being strong enough to be weak. Each day I practice not to cling.

Each day I renew myself with the belief I can be that person each student needs to help him or her to help him- or herself become the person he or she is capable of becoming. And each day, each person, then becomes my teacher to believe and to see the richness of each person, the richness of each day, and the richness of each moment.

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
                                 /     \__/         \/  /  /\ /~\/         \
                          /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\
                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

Return to The Complete Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier
Return to the Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier