Failure to know - oh, what's
A classroom for, if not to
Try, and miss, and try again, and
In the failing, knowing yet more
Each time, growing ever more
Confident. Or, finding all the
Things that will not work,
Ideal, you say - of course. So - why
Not, instead of fear of failing,
Love of knowing; instead of knowing
All or fearing the result, the search,
The questions, and the value of uncertainty.
As I am uncertain at this point, and
Should be afraid, but am not - rather
Exhilarated at the prospect of finding more.
Failure and authority most often
Team up together, but need not.
A friendlier environment for searching
Can be set - it takes some work.
And confidence on a leader's part, of
Course - so here's another riddle
To be dealt with, if not solved.
And the search goes on.
What is there about circles - sitting
'Round a circle - that disturbs?
Authority has trouble with its status,
That's for sure! For a circle is
A democratic figure - no place on
It's circumference better than another.
So in the search for solutions to
The puzzles - of self, of life,
And of the great conversation, what better
Form than the equality and evenness
Of a circle. Each puzzle in each box
Can be itself; and others, differently.
In rows and squares, or lines and ranks,
Some can be low, some higher, and
One highest (or lowest) in the hierarchy.
Yet hierarchies lend themselves best
To conclusions, not to inquiries;
And, too often, Truth is lost.
Circularity lends itself not only to equality
But to sharing: to openness of speech
And hearing; to the engagement of the
Heart as well as of the mind; to
Humanness and love - the focus and the center.
Hence learning, and the search goes on.
There's nothing quite so puzzling as a
Group of puzzles, with attendant
Labels and boxes and rules and
Order, all and each vying with
Others for some end or other.
Community, we call it, and what is
Common is often hard to determine.
Yet it's there, so let's look.
In our special situation, it's not a
City or a village we're concerned with,
But a learning situation, an experience concerning
Some more than one, yet less than a multitude. Puzzles,
in their boxes, with their labels,
In a box in a system - a classroom in a school. And
that's a community? Oh, yes!
Rarely a tyranny; more often a
Benevolent autocracy; occasionally
A democracy. In which one can learning
Truly advance, as we have been saying?
When there is no fear; where the love of
Truth, and curiosity, prevail; where
No hierarchy impedes; where the goal
Is growth, the conversation open.
Where each is learner, teacher -
One and the same - and each
Can be a puzzle, outside his box,
While puzzling the greater questions.
Of this life, and in so doing,
Come ever closer to understanding,
Knowledge, and changes growth implies,
And reach to wisdom as an end.
Such a community is one of love;
For every member must love the
Others for the discourse to go on; must
Care about the process and the goals,
And the sheer delight of watching others
Grow. Such a community values
Puzzles, nurtures them, and in the end
The puzzles love themselves.
So, finally, each puzzle stands revealed -
A person, young or old; teacher,
Student, parent, child. The names are
Many, the roles legion; which hat to wear
At each moment? Labels are so important!
Without a label, I don't know how to deal -
With you. Person is too personal, I
Sometimes think; better to learn the
Box and its label, and get on with
More important things. Like what?
Like learning what is set forth to
Be given back; to conform to -
Norms of the system, the larger boxes
And their labels? Am I better
For it? Are you? Or are we both
Far better for the uncertainties of
Confrontation, the mutual sharing of
Our doubts - our puzzles?
And which way lies the learning that is true
And good - for growing? Puzzles by
Themselves learn nothing. As persons among
Persons they attain a dignity of wholeness
And aliveness that is human - and each puzzle
Begins its mystery to reveal.
What is a puzzle, if not a person -
Part hid from self, part from others.
As, from day to day, another piece
Is found - is lost - is found again.
What is a person, if not a puzzle -
To himself? To those around
Who look, or speak - sometimes to scoff,
To ridicule or to ignore?
Or, to those who, on occasion, do take note,
And, stopping for a moment, extend
A hand of friendship, of concern perhaps,
And then move on - themselves a puzzle?
How to pull the pieces into place,
Give meaning to the bits, frame
All into a more completed whole, if
Not by love?
Ah! That's dangerous! Of course, and
So is life! But not the way you may think;
A puzzle, trying to be a person, fears love
For it may reveal too much. While a person
Trying to solve the mystery, welcomes
What he may learn.
The most over-used, misunderstood
And abused word in the English
Language. Or one of them, certainly.
Brotherhood, sisterliness, affection,
Warmth, concern, caring, passion, or
Erotic excess - and more. All are
Subsumed under its heading, or assumed
At one time or another.
Yet this single word has a deeper,
More universal meaning, and all
The others are expressions, in varying
Contexts, of this meaning. And that is:
To share with another that which is
Deepest within me; giving to that
Which is deepest within another - one person
To another, both equal in humanity
And need, and caring.
That is the heart of living in a human
World; that is the essence of learning;
That is the force that drives true human
Progress, as recorded in the great
Conversation. That is what so often is
Not evident among the boxes, the puzzles,
And the system. Hence, decline and
Mediocrity, and poor SAT's.
Let love in; let teachers care,
And fear not to show it; let
Students care, and fear not being
Singled out; be not ashamed - love
Is not soft or weakening, when
Schools, families, and institutions
With love at the center are transformed
And transported beyond sociology into
The truest history - that of the human
Soul. Without love, then, all is naught
But statistics: let love in, please!