The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
– Eleanor Roosevelt
The tide of the ebb and flow of teaching, of writing, of parenting—of life, has swept through these past weeks catching all in its wake. I’ve been teaching three classes of Orientation to the Teaching Profession, filled with students just entering the profession. Teaching this class never ceases to humble and inspire.
Most students in this class have had other professions and have decided to teach, despite reading today’s headlines so determined to blame teachers for what is society’s responsibility to care for its children, its poor. So much easier to blame teachers, rather than address the real issue, poverty. Yet, still people come to teach.
One of these classes met once a week on Wednesday evenings, almost every person there already had been up since the wee hours of the morning, worked all day, and arrived, exhausted and hungry, to our evening class. The other two classes are online, our connection virtual. Together, we wrestle with ideas, with questions, with all we would bring into being and all we would change. The people in these classes never cease to amaze me with their honesty, curiosity, passion, and above all, dedication to creating beauty in this world. Why would one enter the field of Education now if not to bring beauty to this world?
In an effort to create human relationships, I’ve made video after video for these online classes. Somehow, this makes me feel we are all together. Wild, yet true. We talk together, read together, make meaning about life together. Here, I read from “We Teach Who we Are,” words of wisdom from Parker Palmer. In my experience, the thoughts conveyed here apply not just to teaching, but to life.
The past five weeks have flown by and again and again I return again and again to the words of Marge Piercy, in her poem:
“To Be of Use
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.”
May we be of use, whatever our path, with work that is real.
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