Saturday, March 14, 2020

keeping learning going

what empowers learning?

as schools transition, for a time,
from being in a classroom together,
to being physically distant from each other,
each of us in a separate house,
accompanied by a sterile computer, 
what are we losing?

much of who we are as humans is of the herd—
the other who supports us, who challenges us,
who is a necessary, imperfect mirror
to let us know we have worth,
that a direction we are going
should be supported or varied,

I think of the shock a newborn feels,
as oneness with the ocean of the womb
is lost in the birth canal
and the shock of colder air out in the world,

school can be that shock, too,
as we discover who we are, and who we aren’t,
essaying a sense of self within the classroom,
risking an idea, a writing, a movement, an assertion,
finding a “voice,” unique to us,
that can survive, and thrive,
or in a worst case, be silenced,
it is the aggregation of individuals into a group
that can somehow allow the individuals to find themselves,
appreciate themselves, like themselves, love themselves, 
when it all works,

I feel best about my classes continuing for a time,
with us separated for safety,
when the class has had time together
for them to know each other, the curriculum, and themselves,
when I have had time to tend the flock,
to care for each of them,
to do my best to fashion a web of knowing and support,

for weeks I can imagine each of them
well rising to the challenge
of interacting with the novel, the idea,
the reality beyond them,
creating the story, the essay, the project,
asserting self, and letting me support that assertion,
as the product wends its way to me,
and my reactions back to them,

such a distance between teacher and student 
works better with the connection already established,
I will have to work harder with a class
with whom I have had but a few weeks to connect.

by Henry H. Walker
March 13, ‘20

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