Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Sun, 11 Aug 1996 12:14:15 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: A Random Thought: The Greatest Danger to My Teaching

Got hit by a question Friday by both some students during a Tootsie Pop clutch in the Student Union and an e-mail friend on the internet. I promised them an answer tomorrow. They wanted to know, what with education being THE issue of the 90's, what I thought was the greatest danger to my teaching and who was the greatest enemy to me as a teacher.

Well, here it is, about 5:30 in the morning, sitting in my soaking wet my grubbies. If my questioners had been walking along side me this morning during me my five mile wade I would have been quick to tell them that the my answer is this insufferable and unrelenting heat and humidity. But, after a settling cup of freshly brewed aromatic Tanzanian coffee, I came up with a better answer.

From their conversations, I think I know or partially know who they're expecting me to point the finger of blame at. I know many of you think the _greatest_ danger comes from shrinking budgets. Many think imposing administrators pose the _greatest_ threat. When the issue of the _greatest_ danger to education arises, federal, state and local government often quickly comes to mine for more than a few. How about from parents as some say? I don't think so. From legislators? No. From bureaucracts? No. From experts? No. From professional critics? No. From school board members or Regents? No. From students? No. These people certainly present challenges, problems, difficulties, barricades even dangers. But, I don't think they're my answer.

So, what's my answer? I thought I'd share it with you. Maybe it will strike up a discussion. You may be surprised as they may well be. I know the student willbe. For whatever it is worth, the _greatest_ danger to my teaching is *MY* attitude!! And the greatest enemy to me as a teacher is, as Walt Kelly said in Pogo, *ME*!!

I don't believe who I am as a teacher--or a person for that matter--is determined by external circumstances or another person as much as many people say. Who I am as a teacher--or a person for that matter--is a set of attitudes for which I must take ownership from which stem actions and actions for which I must assume responsibility.

No one can decide for me whether I should belief this or that, do this or that, which I'm should be on a high or in a low, whether I should smile at students or sneer at them, whether I notice each of them or let them go unnoticed, whether I should dance to class or truge, whether my pace should be quick or slothy, whether I should be vibrant or stifled, whether I should be dynamic or stagnant, whether I should sing or grumble, whether I should be excited or bored, whether I should feel or am numb, whether I should pressure or am pressured, whether I should stand up and be counted or sit down and be discounted, whether I should risk or nest safely, whether I should be visible or hidden, whether I should have heart or am disheartened, whether I should bubble or am stagnant, whether I should keep the pot stirred or let it settle, whether I should be imaginative or dull, whether I should be intuitive or go by the book, whether I should create or copy, whether I should dare to try new things or am stuck in mechanized routine, whether I should reach for the unknown or prefer the safety and comfort of the familiar, whether I should be a part of or remain apart from, whether I should constantly probe and question and reflect or am complacent, whether I should be humbly open or arrogantly closed, whether I should challenge or submit and suffer, whether I should face up to or get faced down, whether I should care or could care less, whether I should be fearless or fearful, whether I should be young in heart or have a fossilized spirit, whether I should listen and reflect and answer or talk and ignore, whether I shoould adventurous every day or forever sedentary, whether teaching for me should be just a job or a mission, whether I should celebrate with a "rah" and a "yes" or groan a "bah, humbug", whether I should believe or disbelieve, whether I should shout a "wow" or daily yawn a "ho-hum", whether I am turned on or turned off, and whether I am honest and strong enough to assume the ownership and responsibility for my own actions or I surrender my independence with a host of enslaving, rationalizing "they made me..." and excusing "what can I do" and submitting "if I want to get along, I have to go along."

No, I think only I can truly make these decisions for me, unless, of course....*I* decide to let someone else make them for me.

Make it a good day.


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