Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Fri, 23 Oct 1998 05:38:32 -0400 (EDT)
Random Thought: Just Some Very Random Thoughts

Went out early this morning. Brrrrrr!! 50 degrees. Rushed back in to put on my grubbies before I got frostbite. Anyway, as I passed the snow-capped fire ant hills, lots of small thoughts started whirling through my head like snow crystals in a blizzard. I guess they were generated by a whole bunch of things: an electric conference of the International Society for Exploring Teaching Alternatives, a host of discussions about different things on the internet, stuff on campus and in the classroom. Thought I'd share the thoughts I remember. They're kinda disconnected:

My problem as a teacher will begin when I stop being amazed and surprised.

I don't think you can boil good teaching down to a science, but it is governed by the incontrovertible "law of struggle."

I am convinced that good teachers are need more than intelligence and information and method. I just told an e-mail colleague that I firmly believe that teachers are very special people. They are what I call "glory people." They don't get that luster from what they know and they don't get that grandeur from their teaching technique. No, that majesty comes from their spirit. They are care-givers, very special people caring for other very special people--people who are the future. And in so being, they are people of hope.

As I told a colleague, I do my best teaching outside the classroom.

We cannot separate being a good teacher from being a good person, and we cannot confuse the quality of being a person with the quality of being a student.

As I told a "virtual" colleague, "when you focus on the test, the score, the grade it kinda paralyzes both you and the student."

When we focus on promotion and tenure, on those evaluations, we're kinda paralyzed.

We should enter class knowing we are doing something we love, not just doing something; knowing we are where we truly want to be, not thinking of other places we wish to be; knowing it is important to be there and that we are doing something important, not thinking there is a more important place where we can do more important things.

Before you bring ridicule and diminishment and denigration upon students, bring it on yourself first, and see how it feels. Before you are quick to lable students whom you don't know and separate them from each other and yourself, see if you like being stereotpyed, classified, depersonalized, shut out, judged, distanced, and misunderstood.

Students use a lot of silence when they talk, and it is so easy to misunderstand their silence. So, I must get to know them, to see things their way, and read the space between their words and thoughts.

Teaching and learning is a human drama far more than it is an intellectual exercise and practice of a technique.

As I told a colleague, "it is easy to write "TEACHER" on a label and stick it to your chest for all to see. But, it is not enough to merely wear the label. We have to be the label. No, it's not enough to be the label, we have to live it. And, we must take care to protect ourselves against the confusion of the wearing of the label with the living of the label."

Education is not just to help you become a successful person, but to help you become a valued person and a person of value

We shouldn't just go through a life of teaching, we should grow through a life of teaching.

We should notice the deep beauty in each student beneath the thin skin of a grade or GPA or test score, and see his or her capacity to add beauty to the world

Students shouldn't just go through an academic experience, they should grow through an academic experience.

I think I grow most from problems and challenges I face when I teach, from the things that don't work out the way I want, from the discomforts I experience. On those occasions, I am a real learner far more than a teacher.

I don't think you can really improve academia by taking popular positions, by going along to get along and blaming things on the system.

You can't have kindness--much less faith, belief, and hope--for each student in your face, in your eyes, on your lips, in your body until and unless it is in your soul.

I work very hard not to let any student leave the classroom feeling less happy and lesser.

I agree with Einstein, especially after this week: creativity and imagination is far more important than information.

Is there a difference between being schooled and getting educated, between having gotten a grade or score and having learned?

When we close the door to the classroom, we should be opening ourselves to untold possibilities

My enthusiasm, my love, for each student will kindle a fire far more likely, quicker, and brighter than will my enthusiasm and love for the subject.

I truly believe we should leave every class feeling "what a wonderful couple of minutes I just spent with....."

We look at the sweeping glide of a hawk high above and we are stilled by wonder; we gaze out at the undulating ocean and our emotions are stirred; We walk among the trees in a wood and our soul is awed; we feel the power of the wind and we are humbled; we stare at the mountains and feel spiritually inspired. The true teacher feels those same stirring each time he or she enters the classroom. The true teacher never is indifferent to the very human qualities that illuminate the classroom. The true teacher walks into the classroom with a wonder at life, never takes the classroom world for granted, never stares blankly at it from an unnoticed distance, is always, to paraphrase John Muir, of the class not just in it, a part of the students rather than apart from them.

Make it a good day. 


Louis Schmier           
Department of History    
Valdosta State University
Valdosta, GA  31698                        /~\    /\ /\
912-333-5947                       /^\    /   \  /  /~ \     /~\__/\
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                          -_~     /  "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\
                             _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -\____

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