Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2000 07:16:11 -0500 (EST)
Random Thought: Two Quick Thoughts

As I was shivering on the dark, cold streets this morning, I was thinking about a bunch of conversations that were going on on several discussion lists. And I started playing around with what evolved into two synopsizing thoughts about respect and connection, one on the out three miles, as it turned out, and the second, proabably generated by the first, on the back three.

The first thought is this:

Theories, abstractions, constructs: goodness, how we let them blind us. Preconceptions, opinions, stereotypes: how we let them deafen us. Ego, resumes, degrees, titles, reputation: how we let them encrust and isolate us.

When we get deluded to think that we, the professors and teachers, are here, and they, the students, are out there, it is so easy to set up what we like and don't like, love and hate, respect and disrespect; it is so easy to set up an academic caste system of the dominant and submissive; it is so easy to forget that we derive our being and nature as teachers by mutual dependence and are nothing by ourselves.

We teachers do not independently exist. We need students to be teachers and professors. We need students for our institutions to exist. We are part of a set of inter-relationships that reach out to other people and inside ourselves.

Separation, submission, categorization, domination, and symbolization are the diseases of teaching and learning. We can't have any of that sort of sorting; we need to find and strengthen connection, not disconnection; we need to weave a webs, not coccoons. For the real goal of teaching is to ensure that students eventually can teach themselves and we continue to be students, that they become us and we never stop being them.

The second thought is this:

So many of us get so cluttered with trying to be perfect, to live in a Mistake Free Zone, to write a superhuman resume for ourselves, to distance ourselves from our mortal frailies and failings, or looking for that immortal perfect student who doesn't make mistakes and makes things easy.

You know, the more you want the student to be perfect, the more we are afraid of our own fallibilities, the more we are afraid to reveal our own shortcomings, the more we lose inner peace. Maybe we ought to spend a lot less energy and time trying to find that which doesn't exist and get frustrated about that, and focus on just making the imperfect human student and human teacher better. We ought to use our work to help ourselves and each student to get to the next stage of bettering ourselves and themselves. I assure you that you will and each student will appreciate things more that way.

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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