Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Fri, 26 May 1995

I was reading a student's journal this morning. As I read her entries, I felt myself being enveloped by a majestic grace. The more I read the more I realized that the purpose of teaching is to help another person crack their hard, encasing shell to reveal their life-giving kernel, to help bring something forth from someone else, to make a difference however slight in the life of someone else by my presence, to be involved in some way in the process of someone's growth. When that happens the class room becomes a very special place, filled with the awesome wonder of magic, the radiance of rapture and the indescribable beauty of mystery. It becomes a place where suns can rise, seeds can sprout, flowers can bloom, and stars can come out. It becomes a thrilling, amazing and humbling place. This journal was written by a non- traditional student I'll call Roberta. She gave me permission to share her journal with you. You'll see why it stirred me so deeply:

     Monday--  Sometimes I feel like I could write a ton of
     things in this journal.  I've always been able to cope
     with my feelings, thoughts, etc.  Today I feel very
     stressed and need to unload my worries.

     I've got a geography exam coming up next week, and I do
     not feel good about it.  I really need more time to
     study, but I go from 5 AM to 11 PM non-stop.  It's been
     really hard for me to juggle college and my family. 
     Everyone seems much too demanding.  I'm trying to be
     everything to everyone--wife, mom, student, employee. 
     I'm really tired physically and mentally.  I cannot find
     a time that is convenient for everything. I'm seriously
     thinking about not going to college summer qtr.  I think
     maybe I'm just burned out.  I've been going for six
     quarters near full-time.  I need a break.  I hate to
     though.  I really want to finish my degree.  But, I'm not
     sure now I can do it. I feel like a belly aching brat
     doing all this complaining--but the fact still remains. 
     I'm exhausted.  There is just not enough of me to go
     around.  I can't do it!!

     Thurs--  I'm gonna drop this geography class.  I can't do
     as good as I'd like to.

     Mon--  I made a 74 on my geog. test.  Yuk.  But I've
     decided I'm not going to drop this class.  I'm upset with
     my grade--but I'll just have to try harder.
     I realized I am a hypocrite.  When Kim couldn't fall off
     the table, I talked to her and convinced her that she had
     it inside to do it.  She just had to take a chance and
     trust both herself and others.  We talked about the need
     to climb her mountain--her desk--and face herself, and
     talked her into falling.  But when I reach my "mountain"
     I want to bail out.  I mentioned it to Kim in passing and
     she said it wasn't much different from falling off a
     desk.  That got me to talk to myself as if I was talking
     to Kim. If Kim could find that strength and courage
     within her, I know I can.  I am going to stay and just
     give it my best.  The hell with the grade.  If I get only
     part way up the mountain at least I'm that much further
     up that I would have been if I stayed in the valley.  I
     have to tell Kim.  

     Thurs--  I told Kim yesterday what I wrote in my journal
     this past week and how she helped me see what I could do
     and what she meant to me.  A broad smile broke out on her
     face.  She was so encouraged by it.  She said she never
     thought she could help someone that much and do something
     that important.  I guess she learned something about
     herself from me just like I learned something about
     myself from her.  I think we both learned from each other
     that there is more to learn in this place than some facts
     and there is more to getting an education than passing a
     course with some grade.  I guess we can be teacher of
     each other.
For this moment, a shared experience took two separate individuals and made them one, combining caring, nurturing, giving, sharing, accepting, confirming, changing. Roberta had reached out and touched the heart of Kim as Kim inadvertently had done to Roberta. They each will leave the class in a few weeks having found a bit more of themselves realizing at least for the moment that because of them someone else became something more, that each of their actions had reverberated to touched and affect at least one other person, and so each became something more.

Now I admit, most people might not put this little episode in the same category as a newsworthy dramatic earth-shaking event or a daring life-saving feat or an historic discovery or a great artistic triumph. But, for me Kim and Roberta were to each other as important as a Jonas Salk, an Isaac Newton, a Buddha, a George Washington, or a Martin Luther King. For me, anyone that leads to something good in another person is significant whether it affects only themselves or one person or one million, whether it is recognized or not with fame and awards. I don't think you really need to see a name or a description of an accomplishment in print for it to leave an indelible mark. It those supposedly small achievements which for me loom large and for me give teaching a very special meaning and makes the class room a very special place.

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" -\____

Return to The Complete Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier
Return to the Random Thoughts of Louis Schmier
Return to Arbor Heights Elementary School