This I Believe – Growing and Teaching

Karen - Winchester, Virginia
Entered on September 10, 2008

Have you ever taken the time to pause in a garden that is jammed with plants? With bees buzzing, fragrances that are dizzying, and blooms reaching across to caress your arms and legs? There is ferocious competition in this strangely peaceful place with each plant competing for the sun, the water, and a place to extend roots and limbs. There is a wildness and a determination to grow.

I believe this same desire to grow strong and big, and yes, emanating with fragrance, is innate in each person. We often find ourselves fighting for space, for a place to grow, and to have a voice. Just as in a garden, some find fertile soil and can have deep roots. Others shoot up quickly but wither, parched with lack of water and nourishment. And some can never grow.

I believe that each person has the innate desire to be the best he or she can. To be loved, to be connected, to help others grow. But circumstances don’t always allow that to happen.

I believe that we are all part of community and that through community and being IN community, we realize the nature, the place, and the power of who we are.

I believe that being part of community and assisting with growth is the responsibility of teaching. Teaching using imagination, creativity, passion, and energy are the keys of growth. Teaching is an act of hospitality with the hope that in the mutual engagement in the learning process, we reweave a social fabric that is vital, and safe, and provides for continual learning and growing. I believe we should teach with the “way of knowing” not being that of fear, but with the capacity for connectedness, for mutual inquiry, and for respect of “otherness.”

Effective and masterful teaching cannot occur in a vacuum. As educators and as students, we have an obligation to be concerned not only with what is occurring within our own classroom, with our own students, and with our own learning, but what is upstream and downstream. Working and teaching legislators, and congressional personnel is important, but being the chauffeur on a weekly basis to ferry my precious sixteen children from Boys and Girls Club to the swimming pool is equally crucial. What occurs with each child in preschool, with each doctoral student, and with each adult studying a brand new foreign language at age 70 effects us all. We must be creative to capture the laughter and delight of learning electrocardiogram rhythms by using dancing. We must allow our bodies to be examined by students who need to know what a mitral valve leak sounds like.

And we must make space for each person to grow, to spread out, and to dance.

This I believe.