Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.
Date: Tue, 6 Feb 1996 07:35:51 -0500 (EST)
I came in this morning from my walk feeling very blue even though I walked only half my five mile route. My walking grubbies are Carolina blue, my gloved hands were blue, my covered ears were blue, my nose was blue, the stuff that hung from my tearing eyes and dripping nose was blue ice, and I think, in spite of my insulated long johns, the rest of me is azure. I am so frozen that I'm afraid to sit down in front of the computer thinking I am going to fall apart. I know if I smile my face will shatter, and my my fingers will break off the instant I try to bend them or hit a key. Folks, it's 13 degrees with a wind chill factor of -4 degress out there!! In south Georgia!! What's going on here? It was 81 degrees only two days ago!!
I don't know why I went walking this morning. The fact that I did just proves that because I have a Ph.D. doesn't mean I'm smart. The only smart thing I did was to come in after only two miles. Anyway, while I was shivering on the streets try as I did to the contrary I couldn't help but still think about the relationship of research and teaching. As I darted around the clouds of ice formed by my huffing breath as it quick froze, something got into my tearing right eye. I think it was a sharp, long icicle that was hanging from my eyebrow. For a few seconds, I had to walk with that eye closed. Suddenly, I found myself walking off-balance with a loss of perspective. After I cleared my eye, I tried something. I walked with the other eye closed. Again, I was thrown off-balance and lost perspective, this time in the other direction. For a few blocks, I took my mind off the research/teaching issue and experiemented with walking with each of my eyes closed, with both eyes closed, and with both eyes opened. I must have been a sight: bundled up, swaying and staggering this way and then that as if I was WUI (walking under the influence). But, I began to think of another of something that I had once discussed with a good e-mail friend of mine might be somehow connected with this research/teaching issue, something spiritual or emotional.
I began to wonder how many of us walk into the class room without both our eyes open as if we were a pirate with a patch over one eye, the heart's eye. We rely so heavily on the mind's eye to form our image of ourselves and the students, as well as our way of knowing and evaluating. Using only that uncovered mind's eye I wonder if we lose perspective, deflate three-dimensional people and see only flat, poster-like physical shapes and measurable physical movement of arms and legs and lips in the form of tests, papers, experiements, discussion, question-asking, and question-answering. The images of the mind's eye are cold quantifiable fact and reason that seems safely and comfortably predictable and therefore gradable. It's a mechanical world of color, weight, taste, length, smell, height, shape, action and reaction, texture, and performance. Using only this eye, we approach the world as something to be compiled, piled, weighed, dissected and measured, manipulated and controlled.
I wonder if that information is neutral, passionless, purposeless as many of us suppose. Over the past few years, I have come with some difficulty to see that we on both sides of the podium are beings not only of cold intellect but of warm passion, not only of dimensioned physical shape but of non-dimenstional emotion. I have come to understand that the course we chart in a class for the use of the intellect's discoveries emmantes from the inner emotions, attitudes, beliefs out of sight of the mind's eye. And so, the mind's eye does not present a full picture of reality because that eye is blind to that part of the larger spectrum that the patched eye, the heart's can see. The eye of the heart sees a warm non-material, immeasureable--or difficult to measure-- world of feeling, an unpredictable and less controllable world of emotion, a transforming world of connectedness, an energizing world of attitude.
As I came to realize that I had to discard the patch, I began to realize that if we are emotinally shut down, how could I or the students be excited about ideas much less about themselves. As I began to open both my eyes, I began to acquire a balanced "whAole sight" and practice "wholeness education", and could see clearer with both eyes a vision that encompasses the full dimension of the mind and the heart, and see the interconnectedness of emotion and intellect, spirit and reason within individuals and the learning process of education. I began to see that "wholeness" doesn't just mean pleausre and joy, but awareness, alertness and sensitivity as well. I discovered that as I began to open both my eyes my teaching and learning was deeply affected. I began to embrace change--not fearlessly and easily I assure you--to become engaged, to have what can only be described as a liberating revolution of values that has yet to end. The flattened inanimate images in the classroom began to pulsate with life, the muted images began to acquire a voice. I began to take engage them, to respect each of their uniqueness. I began to take a greater and greater interest in each of the students, in knowing them and of them, in caring about and loving them, in understanding the impact of their experiences, in hearing each of their voices, in sense each of their fears and pains and joys, in recognizing each of their presence, in genuinely valuing each of them, recognizing that each of them contributes, acknowledging that each of them is a resource, and empowering them.
It wasn't and still isn't easy, but you know what, I began to engage myself, to hear my voice, to impower myself, to pulsate, to respect and understand the impact of my experiences, to break my boundaries and play it less safe, to dominate and control less, to relinquish star status, and to live more freely, honestly, deeply and fully. And, the classroom became a very special, real, and exciting place.
Have a good one. --Louis-- Louis Schmier (912-333-5947) email@example.com Department of History /~\ /\ /\ Valdosta State University /^\ / \ / /~ \ /~\__/\ Valdosta, Georgia 31698 / \__/ \/ / /\ /~ \ /\/\-/ /^\___\______\_______/__/_______/^\ -_~ / "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\ _ _ / don't practice on mole hills" -\____