Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Tue, 2 Nov 1999 10:29:05 -0500 (EST)
Random Thought: Have You Noticed That....

Weather dejour is cool, misty on the foggy side, giving me a sense of entering a dark mystery. I normally wouldn't walk on my "day off" since I walk every other day and had walked at yesterday's dawn, but I had to burn off that monstrously huge, sensual, deliciously sinful piece of my Susan's magnificant cheese cake she baked for my All Saints birthday yesterday. The air was had a cleansed aire about it. It had poured last night, quenching the thirsty greenery and washing away the swarms of harassing gnats and squadrons of attacking mosquitoes. At times fallen pecans, knocked from their branches by the pelting rain, cracked under my steps making the blacktop feel like a gravel road; at other times each foot step's hitting and leaving patches of bare, wet pavement sounded like the "squshes" and "plops" of a plunger; drops of water left over rain dripped musically from the moss that hung from the limbs as if they were living stalactites; shadowy huddled forms of azalea bushes surrounded houses; back living columns of tree trunks rose up like columns from the street sides, their branches arcing over the street forming a cathedral-like ceiling.

In that inky, refreshing, silent scenery, that lent itself to poetry and reflection, as I was pondering a number of responses to my last sharing about that "magnificant 'dumb' question" and one of my favorite passages from Pirsig's "Zen and Motorcycle Maintenance," a bunch of "have you noticed thats" began swirling in my head.

Have you noticed that....

learning can be constructed and promoted without all that much of threat. Threats of any kind by any professor never sound good and appealing, and they paint a picture of a classroom that no sane student would want to attend;

the more the teacher thinks only his/her views are important, the more the teacher talks, and the more the students are silent and the less they value their voices; the more the teacher works hard to make his/her views smaller and quieter, the louder students' voices become and the more they value their voices;

students talk low when they don't think anyone values their voice and talk loud when they believe somebody will truly listen;

with few exceptions students, generally feeling powerless, are afraid whatever they may say or do will impact on that almighty grade, are not accustomed to the idea of expressing their displeasure to a professor or administrator and so they remain quiet and allow themselves to be controlled for so much of their academic lives;

when a teacher/professor surrounds students with the stellar passionate sounds, they slowly struggle to believe they can learn;

when a teacher/professor goes into class with a decharging attitude, it is hard for students to get charged up;

students slowly change when you refuse to hear or don't allow them to hear and accept their negative "no," "try," maybe," "can't," "it's not me," "I don't like";

students' faces don't brighten, eyes don't open, lips don't curl upward, and cheeks don't pucker, and spirits don't dance if the teacher doesn't act giddy like the person whose invitation to the senior prom was accepted;

so many of us are so quick to treat "above average" as some badge of honor and "average" or "below average" as some badge of shame;

far too many teachers confuse a sense of responsibility with a sense of possessiveness, control with controlling and ownership;

when you say "teaching," the sound of your voice gives you away; that the person to whom teaching is just a job says the word differently then the person to whom teaching is a part of his/her soul; and that the former's voice is filled with resignation and a sighs rather than filled with the passions of the mission; and so the lips, tongue, teeth, have feelings;

while teachers are supposed to live less in the past than in the future, so many of us look at students' yesterdays as if we know all there is to know about their tomorrows, too often ignoring their todays and the truth that we know far less about their tomorrows than we do their yesterdays;

when you go into class knowing that the earth will move, however, imperceptible, IT...WILL...MOVE;

when you see that teaching is a part of, not apart from, life, your life which is the only life you have and the only life you know, you struggle to figure out how to live it the best you can and make teaching the best you can;

both students and teachers rarely give it their best; they always have some explanation, rationalization, excuse to convince them that they have without understanding that their best today can always be better tomorrow;

if someone says they can teach in their sleep, they usually do. And, they invite the students in with them;

when students enter a classroom they seldom feel splendid, feel good, feel great about being there--not much different for far too many teachers. Why is that?

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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