05 September, 2012

This I believe

Since I was having password trouble, I could not write with you this AM as I normally prefer to do.  So I apologize for my delay in sharing with you my notions of what I believe:
  • I do believe fully and completely in each and every one of you and in your potential to make a future for yourself, your children, and your grandchildren.  I would not have stayed at this community college nor in education if I did not hold this belief.  The brightest part of my year is in March when I have a chance to engage the current group of 8th graders.  At this point, we have been hosting the 8th graders here for about 10 years now--so I have talked with over 20,000 8th graders. I believe this illustrates my commitment to you and the future of us all.
  • I believe we live in an imperfect world and that we work to try to make it perfect, it cannot be.  Some call this imperfect world the "fallen state" from the particular perspective.  I do not.  I simply believe that the world--by definition--is imperfect because we--by definition--are imperfect.  I am not saying that we should not try to do our best.  I am not saying that we should not strive for perfection.  But I am saying that we do not need to "beat ourselves up" because we fall short of some notion of perfection.  We need to acknowledge that we did, in truth, try our best and that we have learned from our endeavor.  That is what life is about: striving for perfection, falling short, and learning.
  • I believe  in the future and what marvels it holds for us.  My grandmother was born in 1893. She was a teenager when the Wrights "flew" at Kitty Hawk.  She saw Neil Armstrong step onto the moon. Can you imagine moving from a horse and buggy world to the moon within a life time?  Can you imagine what is out there for us to still discover? 
My grandmother, Dovie Mae
  • I believe in love.  I love my family and my wife, passionately.  I love the people I work with--and have worked with for 29 years now.  I love my students and the passion they bring about their future. But I also remember well the line from William Blake:  “He who binds himself to a joy/Does the winged life destroy/But he who kisses the joy as it flies/Lives in eternity’s sunrise.” This means to me that if we hold onto those that we love, we destroy that very thing we love.  So with regret, I have to encourage and support my students when they move on to the university.  I have to encourage and write letters of recommendations for my faculty who "fly."  I have to encourage my daughters to spread their wings and fly, when I'd rather they be at home--safe and sound, where I could simply look in while they sleep. 
  • I believe in learning stuff.  I don't care whether it is about astronomy or zoology.  I don't care whether it Achilles or Zola.  I don't care if it is . . . .well, I hope you get the picture.  I have not told you yet, so I am sharing this now: by the end of this term, I can promise you that I will have learned more from you that you have from me.  And I appreciate this learning opportunity!
  • I believe in awe. Sam Keen wrote a profound book, An Apology for Wonder, that I go back to from time to time to remind myself of the awe we seem to have forgotten. I can see how we have lost our sense of awe: we have seen men walking on the moon, we have seen information and change happen in "real time," we have let our language rob us of the capability of sensing "awe."  But I have seen a golden sunset bathe the countryside around the college.  I have seen light streaming through the stained glass of Coventry Cathedral.  I have seen snow in Glendalough, Wicklow, Ireland. I have seen a rainbow touch the waters of Lake Innisfree. . .  .these are all "awe-inspiring," and I would encourage you to think about what the term "awe" really means!
  • Lastly, I believe in this equation: difference DOES NOT EQUAL deficient. I believe we have embraced the opposite; however, different is simply that: different.  We tend to want to find what is wrong with differences instead of simply accepting them.  I owe a boatload of thanks to my graduate faculty in grammar who drove this point home with me and which resonates with everything I do: different is simply that--different.

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