Copyright © Louis Schmier

Date: Mon 4/30/2007 3:35 AM
Random Thought: A Quickie on Real Teaching

Well, Iíve been gnashing my teeth, snarling little--and not so little--curses, and contorting my face into gnarls. Itís that time of the term that I despise with an unbridled passion. Itís when Iíve got to come up with those very uneducational and misleading final grades. To go that, Iíve been pouring over copious notations Iíve taken over the semester on almost 180 students, reading each of their self-evaluations, pondering their evaluations of other members of their community. And, reflecting both on their final journal entries and their evaluations of me and my unique no-test, no-lecture, no-grades, hands-on-only, wholeness-emphasizing class structure.

One sentence from one first-year studentís evaluation so struck me that it has been sticking with me as I fought panicking about everything I have to do before leaving in seven days (gulp, double-gulp) for six weeks in China. ďÖ.You know what you are?Ē she wrote. ďYouíre a caring magician and a loving servant. Thatís what you are because you see and give a damn about each of us, and thatís what you see real teaching as.Ē

Thatís all she said. But, as I prepared to do battle with the final grade sheets, rush a host of caladiums into the ground, work on the courses Iíll be teaching in China, try to calm my Susan down as she frantically struggles to figure out how to pack everything she wants for the trip into one light-weighing suitcase, the counter-balancing calming effect of those two words worked on me all weekend. Though she left me to try to figure out what she meant, I figured out what they meant to me.

Caring magic and loving service. Looking back on this past semester and on the many semesters before it, thinking about each student and all those people who preceded them, those are two great descriptive phrases for, as she said, ďreal teaching,Ē arenít they? Thatís what real teaching is, isnít it? It all boils down to those four words, doesnít it? At least, it should: caring magic and loving service. Real teaching exists in a mysterious and inexplicable futuristic world of otherness, awareness, empathy, faithful loving, and becoming. Without a wand, with no trick hat, without any rabbits or doves, without any illusions, a true teacher works creative magic and helps to create creative magic. A true teacher is a finely attuned, highly effective, persistently imaginative embodiment of creativity. A true teacher also knows that the only way to satisfaction and fulfillment is through being aware that there are others in the classroom with her or him and both loving and serving those others. She or he sees beyond her/himself, into the selves around her or him and serves them. Combining magic and service, she or he is a conjurer. She or he is there each day to help bring possibilities to life in the special lives around her or him. With every thought, every feeling, every gesture, every act, every moment, she or he adds her or his own special gifts to help a student unwrap her or his own special gifts. With caring passion and loving empathy, with an authentic purpose, with uncompromising integrity and tireless service, with magnificent vision and committed mission, the teacher continually focuses on and works to help transform who a student can become into what a student is. The teacher helps both to bring her or his and a studentís dreams into reality. Gosh, she hit the proverbial nail on the head, didnít she? That is what real teaching is: caring magic and loving service

         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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