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Thursday, 26 April 2012

"Leading them to the thresholds of their own minds"

I recently re-read poems from Gibran's The Prophet, and his words on "Teaching" really struck me. I think that, as a teacher, I can "teach" kids certain rules: grammar rules, ways to set up an essay or write a thesis statement,  vocabulary, and spelling. Yet, as Gibran says, real understanding is not necessarily something that's teachable. Ultimately, learning is an active and individual process that each learner must embark on himself. Understanding cannot be given or taught; it must be actively sought and found by the learner, and perhaps, that is why it is so very special. In Gibran's words, "the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man."

What can I give my students as a teacher? I think the most important thing I can do is share with them my own love of literature, language, and learning. If I can communicate to them the intense pleasure and satisfaction that intellectual work brings, perhaps I can inspire them to embark on their own learning journeys and "lead [them] to the thresholds of [their] own minds."

On Teaching

 Kahlil Gibran

No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your knowledge.

The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.

If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.

The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding.

The musician may sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space, but he cannot give you the ear which arrests the rhythm nor the voice that echoes it.

And he who is versed in the science of numbers can tell of the regions of weight and measure, but he cannot conduct you thither.

For the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man.

And even as each one of you stands alone in God's knowledge, so must each one of you be alone in his knowledge of God and in his understanding of the earth.

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