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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Who is the Teacher?

I've learned more as a teacher in the past 15 years than I did as a student.

It's the moments that I stop being a student that I fail as a teacher. I feel less like an authority, more of a messenger. I don't have anything special, I've just been doing it longer than most of my students.



When I first started, I handed out a lot of I don't knows to questions. But as the years accumulated, I found answers and passed them along. Now, fifteen years later, I look like an expert (to some). However, it doesn't seem special any more than walking or running, which, to a toddler, might seem quite impressive.

The challenge, as I see it, is to find a way to connect through the embodiment of beginner's mind. What's it like to hear about a concept for the very first time? How can I present this information, this experience, in a way that someone can digest?

This is assuming that all students come with sharpened pencils and shiny apples. If they did, it would be like sailing across glass. But they bring with them the messiness of life--the emotional hardships of home, the confusion of identity and the conflict of survival. They bring with them everyday shit that makes the waters choppy.

For some, it's quite stormy.

Can I find a way to cut through the wind, to be a beacon in darkness, to share with them direction? Not if I have no light to show, no direction to point. But if, every day, I arrive at work as a student in front of the class, I might do so.

But if I am a student...who is the teacher?






Halfskin
Clay (Sequel to Halfskin coming in March!)

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