Wednesday, June 20, 2007
It happened today. I got fired up and excited about teaching this summer, because that is what I will be doing and why I am going back. The excitement has expanded inside me and is forging a smile and a sense of eagerness I have been missing.
For me, teaching seems to be an inherently creative act. Not like a painter or a play-write, but creative nonetheless. I strive to create a tiny fissure, a crack in the floorboards, a slip of opportunity to the students to look at things differently and to be conscious of things in a new way.
The students do not see it this way. They are looking for a body of material to ingest which is understandable as I need concrete provable verification that the required facts have been embedded, but what I am really searching for is simply the merest glimmerings of the sea change of consciousness.
There is a moment in tidal areas where everything hovers. This is especially noticeable in narrow straights where the tide reverses and floods through strongly. The students come in and study hard and all I am hoping for is that hovering pause when all the plastic bags and used condoms and Sargasso weeds and tiny brilliantly jewel-like fish hover and mill around and start to turn in another direction.
Where they go from there I have no control over, only hope.
Some of the students struggle. All of the students struggle. I feel I am standing, quivering. attempting to hold open this tiny fissure of opportunity I've been granted the chance to heave apart. Some of the students spy it and slither through like guppies, some get stuck like Winnie-the-Pooh in Rabbit's hole and are forced to spend plenty of time with tea-towels hung over their legs while they wait to be ready. Some search for the way to begin to get through. They've spotted the slip of the opening but stand outside it ramming their heads at it sideways and just cannot figure what the next step should be, but the fact that they've found the it and want to peer through and strive gives me hope and a chance to help. Some come up, take a single jaundiced glance and want nothing to do with it, but having spent time and money, and wanting a grade, they work their way through long enough to be deemed competent then march firmly out without a backwards look, untouched and untouchable.
One student struggled and strove and wanted badly, but she met so many obstacles she never made it through - she may think - but by my criteria, the sparkle of consciousness and a sideways slant at the world - she passed by miles. I hope she feels that way. This was simply not the opening for her and she had the bravery and wisdom to recognise this.
It is an exciting process to be in on and I am (finally and thankfully) eager to start again. Does this all sound like hubris? I hope not, my work is a tiny fraction of what the students do...I am merely pointing out the possibilities, they are the ones that do the real work in this collaboration.
This year packed on top of the last three sailing, with all the changes and study and struggle, coupled with this gift of teaching makes the inside of my head feel sandpapered bright and tingling with potential.