Saturday, December 02, 2006

Louis Schmier

Not many folks have heard about Louis Schmier - at least, not as many as I think should have. He has been posting his Random Thoughts on educational lists since early 1993. His writing is amazing. An example is this excerpt from his recent Chaos Theory Of Education:

"....Be careful what you wish for. If you want to change the world of your classroom, start with yourself. Too often many proponents of learning-centeredness ignore the ramifications of this paradigm shift. They really don't deal with the need for an alteration of our own attitudes, intentions, expectations, and acceptances. They don't really address the requirement to change their thinking and feeling. Changing the paradigm isn't enough. You've got to change your thinking. You have to retouch the mental pictures you have of yourself and each student. You've got to think of yourself and each of them not in terms of the problems such a shift creates, but you have to identify yourself with the promising possibilities. Remember the warning attributed to Einstein: "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.'..."

When I start to swing way too wildly at real and imagined obstacles, pushing forward with the latest tech thing, I return to his writing for balance. It brings me back to the student, the center, the focus, of the teacher's life. His writing can bring me back to earth, and remind me of why I do what I do... as in this excerpt from his classic To Be A Teacher:

"....If you want to be a teacher, you first have to learn how to play hopscotch, learn other children games, learn how to watch a snail crawl, read "Yertle the Turtle", and watch "Bullwinkle". If you want to be a teacher, you have to blow "she loves me, she loves me nots" with a dandilion or pull the indiviudal petals of a daisy, wiggle your toes in the mud and let it ooze through them, stomp in rain puddles, and be humbled by the majesty of a mountain. If you want to be a teacher, you have to fall in love each day. If you want to be a teacher, you have to paddle a canoe, take a hike, or just get out. If you want to be a teacher, you have to fly a kite or throw a frisbee, make sandcastles, love people, and listen intently to the rustle of the leaves or the murmur of the brook or the whisper of the breeze. If you want to be a teacher, you have to dream dreams, play games, talk to the flowers, catch fire flies, admire a weed, walk barefoot in the rain, hold a worm, and see what is yet to be...."

Christmas dogwood, 2006

I maintain the complete archive of his Random Thoughts on my school web site. If you have some time over the upcoming holidays to do some reading from an inspired voice, a teacher whose passion is in the right place, browse through the Complete Random Thoughts. There are several hundred, but every single one is a jewel, a light in a dark night.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I've just finished Nell Noddings, "Happiness and Education". I think for creativity to flourish,for change to bring about positive things in education, the concept of happiness and with it creativity is my student goal and of course really I can only change myself in relationship to the learning so it's my central core orientation. It's a fundamental truth that I always have to reference. (One you rediscover over and things in my work so often work as obstacles) She does such a remarkable job within her philosophical writing and is profoundly re-energizing and re-orienting my work, again. I read the author you are recommending. I think it's a very good time to turn towards the roots of why we do what we do. Ultimate roots of our life work. For me it is to build happy lives.For me it's to share Yertle or The Grinch in a place immbedded with context and meaning so it can "be heard" and work towards the creation of an inner joy and a happinesss found through shared meaning making.