Spacious Teaching … and Learning

January Theme: Abundance

Friday, January 8, 2021

In my 45 years as a teacher, I always wanted my classes to have a spacious feel to them, not in terms of the size of my classroom (they were all fairly small) but of the size of the attitude my students and I brought to the learning process. I wanted us to have an attitude that was large and generous – a roomy attitude, if you will. I hoped that we would always have room in our minds for any lessons taught, any thoughts mentioned, any feelings shared. Instead of thinking of ourselves as small, cramped, and isolated individuals, I hoped we would see ourselves as equal participants in a process, called education, that is harmonious, enduring, and – most important — infinite. There are no boundaries in the educational process, and this includes boundaries between those involved in the process. There was no discreet ‘me’ over here and ‘them’ over there – student A in this desk and student B in that desk, totally separate from each other. All learning happens in a boundless space, a measureless area where innumerable ideas, like light but loaded spaceships, pass freely back and forth among minds. I felt that, if my students and I brought to class an awareness of this boundlessness of the learning process, our learning would be wondrous indeed. We would know there is room for every idea and every emotion, every hunch and every guess. We would go about our English work in a spacious atmosphere of grateful acceptance – and sometimes astonishment at how wide-open the learning process can be.

One day he saw a new door open in his life,
so he walked through and found 
thoughts of peace floating everywhere --
enough, it seemed, to lift him up
and float him away to find
what he should really do with his life
that had been loaned to him so many years before, 
and the thoughts did float off with him 
and held him softly and took him
to a place that was more spacious than the sky
and as soft and welcoming as water, 
and the thoughts of peace praised him,
for they said he was a new person, 
and they said that, from then on, he would see
thousands of new doors opening every day,
and what he should do with his life
is simply walk through every one.

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