I find myself in a funny position right now. Well, actually, both feet are on the rung of the chair and my hands are resting on the keyboard…so it isn’t the physical position that is funny, but rather the mental one. I had one of those GREAT teaching days today that absolutely revs me up with joy and amazement at the way middle school minds can get cranking. I came home and told people about it over dinner. I answered email later on that included an email from someone in Mexico who asked me “Que has hecho de bueno?” What good things have you done? I spent a healthy three or four paragraphs expressing my utter delight from my morning religion class that I carried with me on through what was ultimately a crazy busy day filled with a multitude of things. Naturally, I wrote those paragraphs in Spanish…to the best of my ability…and that bit of puzzling through added a layer to the wonder.
But now that I am here and wanting to write of it, I am thinking…but I already did! Do I translate backwards, do I write all over again? Do I post it as I wrote it? A funny feeling position to be in–knowing that I have expressed things in a way that I can not express them in my first language because I chose to communicate with a friend. Yet, to share with other friends, I need to move from a language that isn’t my own to one that is. The ideas were experienced in one language yet recorded first in another. A twisty, though not unpleasant, circle of experience and thought.
This morning my students began to understand the idea that even when we know the definition of words that hold Big Ideas, morality, goodness, happiness, friendship, there is still the question of But what does it mean?? We spoke of being human and therefore interacting with the created world via touch, smell, taste, sound, sight. If we are to understand the meaning of the Big Ideas, it must be in terms of relating to that created world via the senses. I used Peace as an example. IOne student read the definition from the dictionary and then I asked them What peace smelled like, tasted like, looked like, sounded like, felt like and we filled a whiteboard with their ideas….clean sheets, snow falling in the city, a baby snoring, fresh mown grass… The next step was that no image was completely correct and yet none was incorrect but all had the dictionary definition at the core. How is it possible to say that none are completely correct yet none are incorrect? They got it almost instictively. Unique experiences, important experiences. Each image is a piece of the greater meaning of peace. The students were nodding and getting it. The more we come to understand the cores and come to know one another’s experiences of Big Ideas, the closer and closer we get to seeing as God sees because our vision is larger, fuller, more dynamic, more textured, than our one piece will ever allow. They got this! I believed they could handle thinking like this and they did! More than that, they seemed to enjoy it! Amen, I say!
It was fantastic.
Eso es lo que he hecho de bueno hoy.