Monday, November 18, 2013

I am, therefore a read, write and teach.

You can hold your own in front of a crowd, while conveying a message that speaks to your soul as well as to your audience. You can connect with others better than some. No, you are not better, you are just better at this and that specifically.

You can write and take the written word and use it for good, only good, and not to hurt. The words you pen are like breaths taken from your own insides. They are part of you, they are your heart, your mind, your contribution to always commit to make the world a better place. What? How? Simple. By using them to do good, for good and only to convey messages of love, support, encouragement and even with a tiny bit of toughness, your words people listen to... What a change-agent one can be by using the written word to do good, not bad.

You ask questions. Your thrist for knowledge and you nourish the voice inside you that always, always kept nudging you for MORE (whatever that more was and is), you listen. You open the books and read.  Open the pages end embark on your own one ticket to Hogwarts, the Island of Misfit Toys, Avonlea or Avalon. You learn new words, spells, magic words that can cure and mend a broken heart. You soak up as much information you can.

Then you realize that you have also lived. You have lived here and there and gone through this and that. You have a story to tell. Will people listen? Well, I think depends on how you convey your message. Is your story similar to mine? Can your story help me understand my journey? Face challenges? Come to peace with events from the past...

When thoughts like these run through your mind constantly you can't help but wonder if all these questions are being answered, will they be answered, should they be? When? I'd like to think, yes of course, why not. What do you do with all of this? Yes, more questions.

Well, I'd like to take the bold approach and dare to answer the question, at least from my own perspective. What do I do with all of "this" that represents who I am and what I do? Yes, I do my job and I do it well, but I think I can sum it all up with a better plan. I teach.

I realized, what I was calling "presenting", after years of standing in front of a group telling stories about college and the adventures high school students could embark on by enrolling, was teaching. I was teaching how to apply for school, how to navigate a complex, often overwhelming process, how to ask questions. The eyes, staring back at me, sometimes in awe, more often in freight. I could only try to chisel through and make a compelling argument for a slight hint of  hope of getting through, and with some kind of hook, keep them interested.  Breakthrough!

Fast forward to a classroom full of boys, sixteen year old boys, to be exact.  When teaching To Kill A Mockingbird,  pride is the only word I can use to describe the excitment, genuine and thought provoking,  questions and arguments made by the boys.  "Teacher, they want to kill an innocent man, it's not right." Another student wrote a proposal arguingn that the novel become mandatory reading for 1st year law students to discuss race and ethics.

Another time I broke a little bit of the rules-oops, NOT!- and dared to introduce an American playwright, famous for riské semi - autobiographical work. My students got it, they appreciated the maturity and respect I expected from them. They saw literature from a different perspective, it was life, it was real. The author could have been any of them. They thanked me. Breath....

And so, to sum up this rather random reflection,  like the very question I asked my students, I ask... what's the point?  The point, my faithful, enablers of my wordy, but passionate, rambling, I am a teacher. I may not teach now, but I will. There are stories to tell,  minds to pick with the latest and greatest of thoughts, books to read, novels, papers, essays to write. I am a teacher. I teach about the ups and downs of the mystical world that is known as Academia. It is a magical land, whose habitants grow and develop with the assistance of creatures that push, push and push so hard, the residents of Academia lose balance on ocassion.  However, with that very challenging push, comes a cushy, comfy giant pillow of support. You can do this, we say! How great it is when indeed they can.

I teach... and I can't wait to prepare for the next opportunity to teach,  whenever that may come...

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