Saturday, September 08, 2007
I believe that wisdom is a collection of facts and theories learned and stored -- then relearned through experience and applied to the future. Facts learned without the life-experience to understand them become wisdom only when they are experienced, relearned, and applied. Here are some old understandings that are working their way into wisdom in my life.
1. Good = maintaining, promoting, and enhancing life; Evil = destroying, injuring, and limiting life. (paraphrased from Civilization and Ethics, 1949, by Albert Sweitzer) Oh, but how to continue maintaining, promoting and enhancing in the pressure-cooker of minute-to-minute living with a roomful of hormone-driven, me-centered seventh graders???
2. The opposite of love is indifference. The opposite of art is indifference. The opposite of faith is indifference. And the opposite of life is indifference. (paraphrased from Elie Wiesel Oh, but how exhausting it is to continue to care so much!
3. The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt. (quote from Frederick Buechner) My classes have discussed this so-called "butterfly effect" from several different angles for the last few weeks as we have read short stories focusing on the theme "Learning from Experience -- Knowing Who You Are." As a related read, we also discussed Emily Dickinson's encouraging poem "If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking".
4. Norman Vincent Peale said "Live your life and forget your age." During long hours of planning, teaching, relating, and pushing children to be their best, I have felt my age. Good teaching is a job that exhausts those 30 years my junior, but I continue to try to live my life and forget my age.
5. Life is a succession of lessons, which must be lived to be understood. (Ralph Waldo Emerson) This is why my brother, Terrell, of Alone on a Limb, has worked so hard to provide real-life experience for his young fouth-graders! Go over and see the video about a huge project he is chairing to enhance real learning for the children in his school! The upcoming generation MUST understand the importance of living in harmony with our environment!
6. What is most urgent is not always what is most important. I cannot be everything to everybody. I have to remind myself every single day not to allow the urgent to consume my attention. I have to constantly remind myself to focus on what is important. Yes, it is urgent that I have written lesson plans and all materials gathered, but it is important that I be emotionally and mentally present with the students.
7. As the airline flight attendants always remind us, we must first put the airmask on ourselves so that we stay able to attend to those around us. I re-learn regularly that I have to take care of myself if I want to accomplish the worthy and taxing goals I have for my life.