Saturday, March 31, 2012


I lost a friend this week, a strong woman who once jumped out of airplanes to fight forest fires, and lost her fight with some vagrant cells after a long, long battle.

None of us are permanent, of course, a flippant statement when one is healthy.

She's dead, I'm still here.

That won't always be true for me. Nor you. Nor our students.

I took a walk today and saw gannets crashing headfirst into the bay. Their wings fluoresced against the gray March sky. Some folks believe that gannets go blind from their forceful foraging. I used to believe this, too.

I am easily confused by words, and trust them far more than the trust they earn. Most literate folks do.

The edge of the sea defies words, and will continue to defy words, and so long as words are mere symbols (which is all they'll ever be), this will be true. The edge of the sea defies recorded images, recorded sounds. I walk along its edge several times a week, and every time it surprises me.

Our problem is not so much our inability to train our lambs to manipulate the abstract, though that is a necessary skill for anyone landless who wants to survive in our culture. Our problem is that we forget that the abstract is dependent on the world.

Global is abstract. Core standards is abstract. God is abstract. Country is abstract.

A mudflat in March, the aroma of dead critters mixed with the milt marking those who will replace them, cannot be captured by our imagination, never mind our words. What's real exceeds what we know.

The abstract matters, of course, but is utterly dependent on the real. Death does us a favor by reminding us of this. Every time I lose a friend I briefly become a better teacher.

Then I forget.

Bye, Christine

1 comment:

Malcolm said...

Hi Dr Doyle,
I am blessed (lucky actually...I am half way through) to be at the age where the number of friends who have passed can be counted on my thumb. Death can conjure up the most insight and the most thoughtful teaching ever. Thankfully it passes. I think that the exploration of NEW to (if I can coin your term, our lambs)our students quickly replaces the 'what we had', to what is in their (our) future.
I had a science teachers like you. I endeavoured to be like them. I hope I succeeded for at least a couple or three of my students!