The Art of Teaching

There is an art whereby a teacher elicits learning, elicits participation, elicits creativity and growth. It is the art of openness, challenge, and invitation. In developing this art, the teacher sees through skin color and gender, sees through the fa├žade of social faces, and sees through every act of need and fear. The teacher sees clearly the spark or light that is at the core of each and every one, sees how to invite that livingness into openness and trust, sees how to tend that spark into a fire and that vibrancy into genius.

When the teacher matures in this dual-sensitivity of graciousness and growing demand, she or he becomes a kind of priest or priestess, artfully attending the sacred fires who are their students. To invite children into the joy of continual growth, one must be involved in a practice of continual growth. Inspirational teaching is spiritual, attending to the spirit of each student. To lead children out of inability and reactivity to response-ability is not openness only, but openness joined with spirited challenge and gracious invitation.

A great teacher's "spiritual x-ray vision" sees clearly a unique moment in the interaction with children: the first split second when your eyes meet theirs. For if you look through your social face and theirs, you can always see the question that riddles the flesh and complicates every soul: "Are you going to hurt me?" Capturing that initiation, the great teacher is prepared. Deep in her or his heart, he or she is already chanting, "I see you, I'll care for you". In an instant, the student sees the teacher as a friend and the teacher's caring eyes plant a seed of hope in their heart. The first split second when your eyes meet theirs is a great opportunity, and only care and vigilance are required to catch it.

The art of teaching is to tender that place in every child that nobly responds to the call to grow.