Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Letting go

I'm letting go this year. I'm going to trust the collection of young humans sitting in my class, brains honed by countless generations before them, each and every child with a lineage going back as far as the first protobionts that globbed together in the seas here billions of years ago.

I'm letting go this year. I'm going to remind myself every morning, right after the Pledge of Allegiance, that I am mortal, that my students are mortal, and that the "liberty and justice for all" means just that. Neither is cheap. Nor are our children.

I'm letting go this year. I'm singing aloud in class, because I can, and because it helps children remember, It helps them remember facts, true, but more important, singing itself helps us remember who we are. I may drop a couple on a used guitar. I don't play well, but I do play. I don't sing well, either, but I do sing. As the warm July sun sets, I hear the squeaks and squawks and chimmering and chammering of cicadas and cardinals and squirrels and bees and crickets and grackles and dogs. Even the fish around here make noise, croakers and sea robins grunting in protest when dragged out of the water.

I'm letting go this year. I'm going to overtly share my ridiculous love and awe for this marvelous universe, one that belongs to any critter with ribosomes and some nucleic acids. I'm sharing our emerging stories of the natural world along with the joy and fear these stories elicit. Squid flashing light signals to each other deep in the ocean, orgiastic balls of earthworms reveling , bacteria sensing each other before working communally to a common goal--stories about other lives that help us grasp ours.

I have no idea what worlds lie outside what we can sense and rationally infer. I do know that what exists in our natural world exceeds the imaginations of all of us.  If a child's curiosity gets dampened in science class, you cannot blame the world.

Leslie's photos.


Fran said...

You rock! Stick to your letting go, and don't let anyone else talk you out of it, because they will certainly try. Would you like to guest re-post this on my blog?

John T. Spencer said...

Though you teach science and you keep religion at arm's length (or greater), there is a very earthy spiritual side that comes out in your posts. If you find yourself in awe of the universe, that spiritual side might just sneak into your classroom as well.

For the record, I believe in the separation of church and state. I also believe that profound awe and silence have a way of making it into a quality science class.

doyle said...

Dear Fran,

I've been real fortunate to have worked under an administration that has given me a lot of room to develop my classes. I've become a much better teacher because of it, so at this point, so long as my kids continue to do well on whatever tests are tossed their way, I'll likely be encouraged to continue to do what I've been doing.

I'd like to look at your blog, first. (Good chance I have, but not connecting your name at the moment.) I'm flattered that you asked.

Thank you for your warm words.

doyle said...

Dear John,

Profound awe of the universe happens to pretty much anyone who pays attention. I could be howling at the moon on every 17th high tide for all the kids know.

I do remember sitting in catechism class hearing folks drone on how awesome the universe is because God made it, while I wiped the drool from my chin, bored out of my mind as I stared out the back of St. Mary's at the trees across the parking lot, wondering how an hour could seem so long.

Science depends on profound awe--and the natural world that causes the awe. But you know this already. Amazing how many poeple don't, and who insist on doing it their way anyway....

Tracy Rosen said...

I have no awesome, thought-provoking comment here. I just want to let you know this reading this post brought tears to my eyes.

Have a great day, Michael.