Don’t stand too close

I’m working on a lot of projects these days. School coaching, writing a couple of things, creating some new materials for Critical Skills, reading the things that matter most to me while also trying to live a balanced life ’cause this “winning a victory for humanity” thing can be tiring, you know?

Once in a blue moon,though, I have a quiet moment to reflect (usually in the car at a long red light). Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m learning through all of this doing.  I’m not certain that I’ve got it nailed, but here’s where I’ve come down:

Don’t stand too close.

Everything- teaching, writing, parenting, reading- is more effective, more enjoyable, and more interesting when I stop working so hard at it and just make space for growth to happen.  I introduce a lot of people to new ideas every day (and have a lot of new ideas introduced to me!).  I can expend energy trying to force action, parsing out the process into steps and component parts and breaking ideas into minutiae, or I can explain the idea, step back and wait while the new concept mixes in with the existing experience, creating something completely new.  When I take a developmental view- of the writing, the learning, the text or the work- I can see the progression of ideas and thought and understanding.   I think this is equally true for classroom teachers.  When we introduce a new idea- be it capitalism or evolution or the Civil War- we must resist the impulse to force our understanding into the minds of our students.  When we present an idea and allow time for the questions connected to it to surface, we allow meaningful understanding to grow.

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