Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Apple For The Teacher

It's like a binge of teaching.

I'm a teaching fool. I taught summer school on behaviour down in north Toronto on Thursday and Friday of last week and this week I taught, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday a three day series of classes on sexuality. The sexuality classes are being taught via video-conferencing to 29 sites throughout Northern Ontario, this is a whole new experience for me. Seeing Sault Saint Marie or Thunder Bay or Red Lake pop up on the screen in front of me, to ask a question or make a comment, is very, very, cool. I'll admit though that it's taken a little getting used to. Then, it's back to Toronto to finish up the behaviour summer school on Thursday and Friday.

It's been a long while since I've taught 7 days running. And it's been perfect. The process of putting together the classes and then teaching them have pulled me out of the torpor that's come with the grief I've been experiencing. There is something incredibly life affirming in teaching - the idea that what you are doing in the present is soaring into the future. Seeing, mostly, young faces taking notes or thoughtfully pondering an idea, is a wonderful tonic. I feel like I'm DOING something that matters.

As someone who tends to depression in the first place, I find activity a tonic. Setting about to write something, create something, teach something makes me feel like it all matters. I'm not very good at sitting and brooding. I find that I need to escape into activity not retreat into thought. So all of this work has had an uplifting effect on my spirit. I'm sleeping again, even sleeping in a bit. I go to bed tired. I wake with the anticipation of what comes next.

Sometimes it's important to be pulled out of yourself. Like, when I became a wheelchair user, it was just before a lecture trip to the United Kingdom. I didn't have time to consider anything other than the trip, the work and the travel. The wheelchair - dealing with that could wait. By the time I got back and had time, the wheelchair was just what I used to get around. I'd been taken over by purpose and didn't have time for self pity.

Everyone deals with life's stressors differently. This is what's worked for me. Particularly right now. I'm busy. And that is what makes it all possible. I still feel loss keenly. I still have moments of horrible pain. Of course I do. But my busy attempt to affect the future, seems to me to be attempting, a little bit to bring about the vision of those now past.


Belinda said...

I wonder if loss doesn't make the responsibility of those of us still here more important to carry. Just listening to The Diary of Anne Frank on audio book, and knowing her voice was silenced, makes me feel the privilege of still being here and able to make a difference, although of course, she still is.

So teach on Mac Hingsburger!

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

I totally agree with you about teaching - it is a life giving activity when done well - an investment in the future. I think that is what makes you a good teacher, Dave, you invest your self in your teaching - it matters to you and you hope that it makes a difference. Your teachers are not just academics but the real people who you have got to know and who have showed you their way of being in the world. And through you they become our teachers.

I will second what Belinda says - teach on!

Anonymous said...

I will never forget the lesson you have taught me over the years. I reference them everyday.

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

I thought you might appreciate this quote.

"How would you sort all that out . . . and make a precise estimate of the influence of one teacher? Obviously you cannot . . . a teacher's contribution may pop out anonymously in the life of some ex-student's grandchild. A teacher finally has nothing to go on but faith, a student nothing to offer in return but testimony." Wendell Berry

It seems to me that your post reflects both of these - you as the teacher and you as the student. You have faith that your teaching makes a difference and you offer your testimony regarding your own teachers.

BTW - the grandchild part made me think immediately of Ruby and her testimony to Manuela.


Anonymous said...

You teach well so continue enjoying, learning and growing and you will continue to teach well....maybe even better (however I find that hard to imagine as I think your amazing now). Glad you've been busy and that it's working for you!!!

Just Jess for now said...

I'm glad that you are able to do something that you love and that it is good for you.
I am also glad to know that Sault St Marie is willing to let in classes of Sexuality-I grew up there and even though I love it and still call it home, sometimes there are closed minds in such a small and isolated community.

Noisyworld said...

There's nothing quite like sitting with nothing to do to make you dwell on things best left unexplored :/
I'm glad that your passion is your job, so many people do not have that luxury especially as it's something that makes a real difference to people's lives- keep it up sir :)

Anonymous said...

'That which touches me most is that I had a chance to work with people
Passing on to others that which was passed on to me

We who believe in freedom cannot rest, We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes'

From Ella's Song Lyrics and music by Bernice Johnson Reagon Sung by Sweet Honey in the Rock