Copyright © Louis Schmier

Date: Wed 3/28/2007 5:15 AM
Random Thought: A Quickie On What Teaching Is All About

I came in from my walk a few hours ago. The air was warm and inviting. While I was being gold plated by the pollen along my now two mile power walk, I was thinking about a brief conversation I had with Kathy (her real name) about teaching.

I was sitting on the stone bench in front Ashley Hall, watching the honey bees struggling to make a nest inside the terrazzo tile roof. Kathy, who is aspiring to become a teacher, sat down next to me. We started talking about my teaching methods and educational philosophy. She asked me, "What do you think teaching all about?"

“Being a burning candle for each of them,” I answered without looking at her as I nonchalantly pointed to the students pouring out onto the pedestrian walk from West Hall.

"Huh? A burning candle? I don’t get it!"

I turned to her. “Yeah, being a burning candle, but it has to be about being a burning candle that’s there to help someone else light her or his candle. A person who only is concerned about burning his or her own candle really doesn’t shed very much light and isn’t very warming. But, to be a burning candle for someone else, that’s something else. Being a burning candle is my opportunity to shine my own special light into someone else’s darkness so she or he can see something she or he has either only vaguely seen or never had seen before. When I do that, it doesn’t have to be a blazing torch. Even a small flame will shine for a long, long way, drive back a lot of darkness, and drive out some heavy chill. By being a candle I can help reveal the true riches that lurk in the shadows and help each student help her/him come out from the darkness of disbelief into the light of her or his beliefs, abilities, talents, and potential. To do anything else, only perpetuates and perhaps increases her or his, as well as my own, darkness and coldness.”

“Well, how do you do that, help someone to light their own wick?”

“There’s no set formula. Every candle is different. But, I always say that there are 50 times, and 50 chances to light a candle each semester. I call those instances and opportunities ‘days.’ So, I just strike my match, light my wick, and become a burning candle for someone each day. But, of course, there's more to it.”

And, I went on to say….

         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" -    \____

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