Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Time for quahogs

The back bay's warming up--the quahogs are feeding again.

The sun's rays are no longer just glancing off the Earth around here--we're warming up. Algae grow, fusing carbon dioxide and water into sugars, bound by sunlight. A bed of clams lies just under Richardson Sound, a few of them tossed back by my hand last summer, eating the algae.

Eating is a religious act--we eat other creatures, other creatures feed on us. We pretend otherwise at our peril.

I teach biology--we use words like adenosine triphosphate synthase and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide--and none of my students know how a clam grows.

Few know why we breathe.

Should I ever become a competent teacher (as opposed to the "highly qualified," tenured educator that I am), a child will grasp why our economy cannot be sustained, why declines in phytoplankton matters, why our words and abstract reduction of an incredibly complex (and ultimately incomprehensible) universe threaten our survival.

And that child would worry.

But should I become a good teacher, better than competent, a child will feel joy knowing she is part of the mystery, and she will act in good faith and good conscience to change what she can, and dance and breathe and sing and eat and live until she dies, knowing as she lives that she will die.
The crocuses are blooming again. The clams are rising again. The sun is climbing the sky again. I'm in my 6th decade.

Time to get the clam rake out. Again.


Paul C said...

'Should I ever become a competent teacher...'

I'd give anything to be in one of your living and breathing biology classes.

doyle said...

Dear Paul,

Thanks for the words. Some days the class floats, other days, well....I especially appreciate comments from teachers.

Paul C said...

Not to belabour the point. Is a dedicated retired teacher still on the learning curve suddenly a nonentity?