I was eating lunch at last week’s Lilly conference and talking with some nice people around me. We were from different campuses in different disciplines. One person kept looking at my hands. Finally, he cautiously asked me why the pinky on my right hand was “painted” with nail polish. This week’s color was a neat iridescent blue.
I smiled. That was about the fourth time I had been asked that question at this conference. Still I smiled. I never tire of going back to that fateful early January day in 1996 and tell that unfolding story about Kim, a first year developmental studies student, and me. I always tell people that I share as a storyteller because I fully believe, as Rich Berrett from Cal State-Fresno, taught us in his stirring workshop, “The Teacher as Storyteller,” that stories communicate profound principles of education by connecting the mind, body and emotions, and help us take ourselves down into the enlightening depths of deep learning. For me, this particular story never lets me forget that the active force in education is a person; that the beauty of a person lies in seeing him or her as a whole human being; that compassion for each student rests heavily on being aware of that wholeness; that we must educationally involved with emotional development as intensely as we are with intellectual and physical development; that our educational system has to go beyond competence and skills, and be designed to create enabling and empowering conditions that can provide self-respect and self-actualization which will help each and every person lead the most enriching life possible; that there is a desperate need to put aside our confining educational dogmas of information transmissing, planning, organizing and controlling, and realize the sacredness of a educator’s responsibilities for the lives of so many people.
After I finished my tale, he said, “Things like that don’t happen to me. I wish they did.” Then he asked, ” How do you get miracles like that to fall into your lap?”
I thought about for a few seconds. “I have learned over the last nine years that I ‘just’ have to struggle to move my lap to where the miracles fall.”
Make it a good day.