Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Beautiful Tensions

I hope you’ll bear with me while I ramble a bit. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the rhythm of teaching. It’s not just the transfer of knowledge from teacher to student. There are so many things to balance, so many beautiful tensions playing against each other under the surface.

First and foremost, there is a need to balance a love for the subject with a love for the student. The best teachers I’ve seen love both, and don’t let their love for one overshadow their love for the other. Oh, and loving both is necessary, by the way. Can you imagine (or remember) a teacher who dislikes the thing s/he is trying to teach, or who dislikes the student?

There is a tension between the student’s need for guidance and his or her need to explore. There is a tension between working and resting, between gains and plateaus. I constantly need to remind myself that learning is not a steady uphill climb. Steady work, yes, but not always steady progress. And we all need to rest sometimes.

We need to find a balance between work and fun, order and freedom, challenges and successes, encouragement and correction. We want to nurture but not coddle, nudge but not push, praise but not flatter.

There are teachers who make all this seem effortless, who guide and respond, stretch and encourage in a completely natural way. When you start analyzing what they are doing, however, you discover this delicate dance, these intricate cross rhythms that are truly amazing. I love catching a glimpse of those movements.

I don’t think there are any formulas for learning how to do this. As far as I can tell, it takes a lot of listening and watching and learning. I’m working on it. I’m slowly trying to add new dance steps to my repertoire—the rhythms are fantastic.

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