keeping learning going

keeping learning going

By Henry H. Walker

as schools transition(-ˈsiSHən,tranˈziSHən), for a time,
from being in a classroom together,
to being physically distant(ˈdistənt) from each other,
each of us in a separate(ˈsep(ə)rət) house,
accompanied(əˈkəmp(ə)nē) by a sterile(ˈsterəl) computer,
what are we losing?

much of who we are as humans is of the herd(hərd)—
the other who supports us, who challenges us,
who is a necessary, imperfect mirror(ˈmirər)
to let us know we have worth,
that a direction(dəˈrekSH(ə)n, dīˈrekSH(ə)n) we are going
should be supported or varied(ˈve(ə)rēd),

I think of the shock a newborn feels,
as oneness with the ocean(ˈōSHən) of the womb(wo͞om)
is lost in the birth canal(kəˈnal)
and the shock of colder air out in the world,

school can be that shock(SHäk), too,
as we discover who we are, and who we aren’t,
essaying(ˈesā) a sense(sens) of self within the classroom,
risking(risk) an idea, a writing, a movement, an assertion(əˈsərSHən),
finding a “voice,” unique to us,
that can survive, and thrive,
or in a worst case, be silenced,
it is the aggregation(ˌaɡrəˈɡāSH(ə)n) of individuals into a group
that can somehow allow the individuals to find themselves,
appreciate themselves, like themselves, love themselves,
when it all works,

I feel best about my classes continuing for a time,
with us separated for safety,
when the class has had time together
for them to know each other, the curriculum(kəˈrikyələm), and themselves,
when I have had time to tend(tend) the flock(fläk),
to care for each of them,
to do my best to fashion(ˈfaSHən) a web of knowing and support,

for weeks I can imagine each of them
well rising(ˈrīziNG) to the challenge
of interacting with the novel(ˈnävəl), the idea,
the reality beyond them,
creating the story, the essay, the project,
asserting(əˈsərt) self, and letting me support that assertion,
as the product wends(wend) its way to me,
and my reactions back to them,

such a distance between teacher and student
works better with the connection already established,
I will have to work harder with a class
with whom I have had but a few weeks to connect.