Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.
Fri, 26 May 1995
ROBERTA AND KIM
I was reading a student's journal this morning. As I read her
entries, I felt myself being enveloped by a majestic grace. The
more I read the more I realized that the purpose of teaching is to
help another person crack their hard, encasing shell to reveal
their life-giving kernel, to help bring something forth from
someone else, to make a difference however slight in the life of
someone else by my presence, to be involved in some way in the
process of someone's growth. When that happens the class room
becomes a very special place, filled with the awesome wonder of
magic, the radiance of rapture and the indescribable beauty of
mystery. It becomes a place where suns can rise, seeds can sprout,
flowers can bloom, and stars can come out. It becomes a thrilling,
amazing and humbling place. This journal was written by a non-
traditional student I'll call Roberta. She gave me permission to
share her journal with you. You'll see why it stirred me so
Monday-- Sometimes I feel like I could write a ton of
things in this journal. I've always been able to cope
with my feelings, thoughts, etc. Today I feel very
stressed and need to unload my worries.
I've got a geography exam coming up next week, and I do
not feel good about it. I really need more time to
study, but I go from 5 AM to 11 PM non-stop. It's been
really hard for me to juggle college and my family.
Everyone seems much too demanding. I'm trying to be
everything to everyone--wife, mom, student, employee.
I'm really tired physically and mentally. I cannot find
a time that is convenient for everything. I'm seriously
thinking about not going to college summer qtr. I think
maybe I'm just burned out. I've been going for six
quarters near full-time. I need a break. I hate to
though. I really want to finish my degree. But, I'm not
sure now I can do it. I feel like a belly aching brat
doing all this complaining--but the fact still remains.
I'm exhausted. There is just not enough of me to go
around. I can't do it!!
Thurs-- I'm gonna drop this geography class. I can't do
as good as I'd like to.
Mon-- I made a 74 on my geog. test. Yuk. But I've
decided I'm not going to drop this class. I'm upset with
my grade--but I'll just have to try harder.
I realized I am a hypocrite. When Kim couldn't fall off
the table, I talked to her and convinced her that she had
it inside to do it. She just had to take a chance and
trust both herself and others. We talked about the need
to climb her mountain--her desk--and face herself, and
talked her into falling. But when I reach my "mountain"
I want to bail out. I mentioned it to Kim in passing and
she said it wasn't much different from falling off a
desk. That got me to talk to myself as if I was talking
to Kim. If Kim could find that strength and courage
within her, I know I can. I am going to stay and just
give it my best. The hell with the grade. If I get only
part way up the mountain at least I'm that much further
up that I would have been if I stayed in the valley. I
have to tell Kim.
Thurs-- I told Kim yesterday what I wrote in my journal
this past week and how she helped me see what I could do
and what she meant to me. A broad smile broke out on her
face. She was so encouraged by it. She said she never
thought she could help someone that much and do something
that important. I guess she learned something about
herself from me just like I learned something about
myself from her. I think we both learned from each other
that there is more to learn in this place than some facts
and there is more to getting an education than passing a
course with some grade. I guess we can be teacher of
For this moment, a shared experience took two separate
individuals and made them one, combining caring, nurturing, giving,
sharing, accepting, confirming, changing. Roberta had reached out
and touched the heart of Kim as Kim inadvertently had done to
Roberta. They each will leave the class in a few weeks having
found a bit more of themselves realizing at least for the moment
that because of them someone else became something more, that each
of their actions had reverberated to touched and affect at least
one other person, and so each became something more.
Now I admit, most people might not put this little episode in
the same category as a newsworthy dramatic earth-shaking event or
a daring life-saving feat or an historic discovery or a great
artistic triumph. But, for me Kim and Roberta were to each other
as important as a Jonas Salk, an Isaac Newton, a Buddha, a George
Washington, or a Martin Luther King. For me, anyone that leads to
something good in another person is significant whether it affects
only themselves or one person or one million, whether it is
recognized or not with fame and awards. I don't think you really
need to see a name or a description of an accomplishment in print
for it to leave an indelible mark. It those supposedly small
achievements which for me loom large and for me give teaching a
very special meaning and makes the class room a very special place.