Monday, February 9, 2009

giving enough time

“wait till they can tie the shoe. . .”

you’ve got to wait, to give the kid time,
no matter how much of a hurry you feel yourself in,
I know the learning by doing cuts the time to double, to triple. . .
yet it’s the doing that is a real learning,
especially when it’s a doing the doer owns,
when one orders one’s inner self
so that your actions upon the outer world
can be ordered and the orders carried out,
and the individual transforms himself, herself,

school at its best resists the metaphor
of learner as empty vessel
into which knowledge is poured,
or learner as someone to be trained,
the forcing of action, and repetition of action,
until what we want becomes second nature to the student,
though such training can be vital
in fire drills, manners, and the times table,

at the highest level of learning
the student empowers his and her own self
to marshal will and resources
so that each victory over inability builds on the previous
and each who can be passive
realizes how far, how high, how deep, how wide
one can reach if but believed in, if given the time,

when the learned teacher reminded me to wait till they tie the shoe,
I recognized hers was a most basic truth of teaching at its best,

and she described the student looking up after doing it
with a face that glowed
as the light within could not be held back.

by Henry Walker, inspired by Kathy Schenley
February 3, ‘09

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