Fits & Fugues

Education can be so much more.

A Whole New Mind Book Study Part 3.07.08 -Called to the Profession

Passion. Called to the profession. Inspired by another teacher. Making a difference.

Those are the top reasons the book study participants gave today when I asked them to tell their story and frame it within the question of why they got into education. Empathy, chapter 7, in A Whole New Mind contains a portfolio section called Empathize on the Job. In activity #2  How Did I Get Here? Dan Pink writes “Sometimes you work near people for years but have little idea about the path that brought them alongside you.” So today I asked. We, at the request of the group, modified the activity and had each person tell his/her own story to the whole group. I took notes on one side of a notecard and listened for themes in each person’s story. The dominant ones are at the top of this post. The word passion came out of every story directly, simply, plainly, and unflinchingly. This, from a group that ranges in experience from only a few years to 20+.

I wasn’t surprised about passion, being influenced by another teacher, or making a difference. Those seem to be very common bonds among educators. The other, called to the profession, surprised me a little. Many in the room spoke about being called to the profession, having it in their blood, or simply knowing from an early age they were supposed to be in education. More than one took a circuitous path, some resisting, but we all ended up here. It seems to be somewhat anachronistic, especially in today’s postmodern technological realm, to respond to a call.

This identification of purpose or meaning (Chapter 9) resonates and grounds people, making them unshakable stalwarts. Passion permeates what they do, who they are. Not all educators reside here, but the ones who do simply radiate and attract kids (and adults) to themselves. It’s not out of ego or grandiosity; it’s their quality. The same thing happens when the sunrise stops us or a piece of poetry gives us pause. We cannot really quantify it, but we can see its results. Kids, other staff, parents, even you know who these people are.

The ones who answer their calling are not limited to education, but few other vocations so poignantly intertwine people and purpose, message and meaning, wisdom and wonder. Can we teach kids to answer a call regardless of vocation? I’m not sure, but we can prepare them to be ready, receptive, and reflective. The purpose of education starts there.

February 23, 2008 Posted by | Education | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fits & Fugues Part 2

My “fits” flow from my passions, sometimes through the fugues, sometimes because of them. My passion spectrum seems to have inspiration on one side with desperation on the other. I find the tensions created between the two working on me all the time: each seems to be a source of and a kind of a fugue. That’s desperately inspirational.

I feel compelled to write a few words on inspiration and desperation. Inspiration is built on the Latin word meaning to breathe or blow into, or to inflame. Desperation comes from the latin to lose hope or to have given up. In initially writing this post I had used annoyance as the other end to inspiration, but behind annoyance I realized there was something more. When reflecting on why I get annoyed by some things it becomes immediately clear that it springs from a loss of hope, a form of desperation as it were. Why do red lights annoy me? Because I lose hope that I will get to a place on time or that I will always have to stop while others go. Why does the extremely slow pace of change in education annoy me? Because I lose hope that we will be effective in preparing our kids for a nearly unimaginable future. Often times it’s those annoyances or pockets of desperation that lead to inspiration and sometimes the reverse is true. Strictly, speaking they aren’t quite opposites, but neither are red and violet.

The spectra of these and many other seemingly dichotomous array of entities that show up in my personal and professional lives create a tension that needles creativity and prompts responses. Like the light spectrum where it’s nearly impossible to discern where one color ends and another begins, it’s often nearly impossible to pinpoint the end of desperation and the beginning of inspiration.

The two Latin verbs that form inspiration and desperation are spirare and sperare. No one word in English really encompasses our purpose as educators as those two Latin verbs: to breathe hope. I guess a new word is needed: Inspirsperate. Doesn’t really roll of the tongue. Oh well, multiple words it is. We must simply breathe hope as educators using all the tools available to us in the time allotted to us for benefit of the kids given to us.

October 6, 2007 Posted by | Education, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment