Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Sun, 3 Mar 1996 08:29:18 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Random Thought: What Would The Classroom Be Like If....

Well, here it is 6:30 a.m. Inviting aromatic wisps of the hot cup of freshly brewed, specially blended coffee sitting next to me are curling about like a host of relaxing, delicate, dexterous, massaging fingers.

It was a curious walk this morning. Ever have that feeling that you're both out of step and in step at the same time. That's how I have felt on all my walks this past week, but especially today. Ordinarily, I would have said that I just had endured the sufferings of a five mile plod through the dark morning's dank, stark dreariness. But, all week nothing has seemed suffering. I didn't notice the darkness because of the light I've felt enveloping me all week. It's warm inner glow has been a set of spiritual thermals that easily deflected this morning's otherwise penetrating wet, chill. I haven't felt this profoundly serene and alert and sensitive since the pivotal, spiritual experience I had as I climbed both that North Georgia mountain cliff and my inner cliff back in November, 1991 that was part of the regional wilderness retreat of Hyde School which my younger son, Robby, then attended. This week I've been more focused; everything seems more alive. I feel good. I feel alter. I feel alive. My senses haven't been this sharp since that fateful day four and a half years ago. The beginning of last week seems like it was another world. I suppose part of the reason is the still reverberating echoes of Yemenja and thoughts of how on Friday Kim proudly reminded me, with a grin stretching from ear to ear, of the approaching two month anniversary of being "clean" she and I will celebrate in a few days. But, more than anything, I feel like I'm walking through the garden because of an act I thought was just a simple--and had convinced myself would be futile--gesture of sincere kindness and consideration that unexpectedly and amazingly novaed into event of great and loving profoundity. It has left my shaking my head in the most humbled amazement. It has left me with the feeling that the world is a bit more beautiful, cheerier, kinder; that it's now a slightly better place where people are a bit less troubled. I know it is for me, for I can humbly hear Emerson saying that I can't help someone else with helping myself, and that I can't help myself unless I help someone else. It has made me even more acutely aware of the inseparable intimacy of the spiritual and emotional with the corporeal and cerebral, of how often we are so headdy and intellectual that we look for what others do rather than see who they are; that we focus only on the external surface of people's actions and ignore the less noticeable but no less monumental buried emotions which lie hidden for so many of us even if we were to stand naked. And though this event about which I am being deliberately vague has nothing to do with students and education, it has everything to do with students and education. Maybe an important--perhaps the most important--and too often neglected part of our task as educators is to enrich where there is a poverty of spirit and nourish where there is a starving for caring.

And so, this morning I wondered. I wondered what would happen in the classroom if we teachers and professors cared more about the spirit of the students and less about a spirited lecture, if we were more concerned with a meeting of the hearts than a meeting of the minds, if we affirmed with encouragement more often and were firm with discouragement less often, if we caringly connected more and sternly corrected less, if we pointed our fingers less at the problem student and struggled more to put our finger on the student's problems, if we focused more on students' strengths and less on their weaknesses, if we hugged students with kindness more and squeezed them hard with fear and threat less, if we cared more about the authority of love than the love of authority, if we believed that it is stupid to think any student is stupid, if we held students hands more and chain their souls less, if we realized how much we retard students when we treat them as retarded, if we used more healing and comforting words and gestures and used less hurtful and discomforting words and gestures, if we acclaimed more what students can be and bemoaned less what they are, if we didn't make the mistake of being afraid of making mistakes, if we took the chance to take chances, if we celebrated students for the precious gem each is, if we treasured each student as a treasured light of the future, if we saw them each as inspiration for composer's note or an artist's brush or a poet's verse or sculptor's chisel or a dancer's step, and if we embraced students as if each was our own loving child? I was just wondering.

Make it a good day.


Louis Schmier  (912-333-5947)
Department of History                      /~\    /\ /\
Valdosta State University          /^\    /   \  /  /~ \     /~\__/\
Valdosta, Georgia 31698           /   \__/     \/  /     /\ /~      \
                            /\/\-/ /^\___\______\_______/__/_______/^\
                          -_~     /  "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\
                             _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -\____

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