Oiling a wheel

Morro Strand Beach, Morro Bay, Californiaby cheri block

We are all teachers in some way.

The best teachers are patient and knowledgeable. They usually like to laugh.

I read a marvelous quotation about the Art of Teaching yesterday. It goes like this:

To teach another something is like oiling the wheels of a heavy cart so that they will turn.     (Nicheren)

Inherent in this quotation (note not quote, which is a verb) is the learner, who is likened to a heavy cart.

By the time most of us who have spent a lifetime trying to teach others our skills–for me it was how to write, how to read carefully, how to analyze literature, how to punctuate, how to know when to use possessive pronouns, how to be curious, and how to stay focused, among a few language arts necessities– we have lost our patience.

The greatest teachers are the ones who, like my friend Kurt Richey, have passion and the inherent intellectual abilities to persuade learners to follow them toward mastery of that passion.

Kurt is funny, vulnerable, fierce, gentle, self-deprecating and generous, but most of all, he is smart. If only the public school system had more English teachers just like him.

Why, this morning, he is still out there in his barn at Foothill High School repairing carts and going through gallons of oil on those wheels we hope are turning.

About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
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9 Responses to Oiling a wheel

  1. cpartner@comcast.net says:

    Sis perfect description of ole Kurt out there in his barn. Love it! xoxo, Cindy

    Cindy Block Usedom Cindy and Partners

    Cell: 510-501-4140 Office: 925-426-3760 http://www.cindyandpartners.com

  2. douglas says:

    My teachers always seemed to chuckle a lot at the beginning but, by the end of the school year, were giggling maniacally like the guy in Reefer Madness.

  3. Kurt says:

    You’re too kind. Thank you.

  4. Richard says:

    … funny, vulnerable, fierce, gentle … You, too are all of those things.

  5. Christopher says:

    In the matter of teaching, I watched the other night the 1970 film, “Getting Straight”, starring Elliot Gould as a student teacher working on his PhD in English Lit.

    If you ever saw this film, you’ll surely remember *this scene* in which several professors are questioning Gould in depth on The Great Gatsby.

    Perhaps you’ve had similar experiences in Academe?!!

  6. Cheri says:

    Christopher, this scene is one of the funniest I have ever watched. Thank you for reminding me of this film. And yes, the scene at Stanford last year in the “final meeting” with the Program Director and a helpful professor might have been similar, had I been able to stage the meltdown that Elliot Gould did. When all is said and done (next June), I will have some very funny things to report.
    Thank you for sending that link. You made my day.

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