Sunday, September 2, 2018

A Teacher's Prayer: September

May I be present to the grace that surrounds me.
May I honor the unique identity of each child
   and the hidden world behind each face.
May I pause when I must
  and laugh when I can.
May I put connection ahead of curriculum.
May I trust myself, and my students.
May I engage in the process with a loving, caring heart
  and then let go.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Gods of Pigeon-Holes, from DUST TRACKS ON THE ROAD: An Autobiography, by Zora Neale Hurston

"Grown people know
that they do not always know
the why of things,

and even if they think they know,
they do not know
where and how
they got the proof.

Hence the irritation they show
when children keep on demanding to know
if a thing is so
and how the grown folks
got the proof of it.

It is so troublesome because
it is disturbing
to the pigeon-hole way of life.
It is upsetting because
until the elders are pushed
for an answer,
they have never looked to see
if it was so
nor how they came by
what passes for proof
to their acceptances
of certain things
as true

So,
if telling their questioning young
to run off and play
does not suffice for an answer
a good slapping of the child's bottom
is held to be proof
positive
for anything
from spelling Constantinople
to why the sea is salt.

It was told
to the old folks
and that had been
enough for them
or put it in
Negro idiom
nobody didn't tell 'em
but they heard.

So

there must be something wrong
with a child that questions
the gods of the pigeon-holes"

-Zora Neale Hurston, from Dust Tracks On the Road
(line breaks and stanza breaks added by me)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Betrayed by Words: The New Tower of Babel

I used to have a passionate faith in words - reading them, writing them, speaking them. I consumed words with a fire born of the belief that they carried meaning, the power to change and grow, an illuminating vision of humanity, the pieces of some truth greater than ourselves that could help us make meaning in this complicated world.

I still want to believe that, but lately I feel as if I've lost my faith in words. They have become monstrous, meaningless things that screech in the darkness, a vast infestation of noxious weeds, where the rare examples that enlighten or further conversation are choked out by the clanging cymbals, the noisy trumpets, the sounding gongs, the empty and preening pronouncements. You can't count on them. They hide the truth and create divisions instead of connections.

Perhaps words have always been slippery things. But the cacophony has become deafening in this digital age. The internet is the new Tower of Babel.