Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Teachable Moment

The teachable moment likes to hang around near the back of the classroom, slouching a bit and keeping a low profile until she feels the need to force her hand and say her piece. She despises rubrics and the rectangles of spreadsheets. She lives for the marriage of whimsy and cynicism, for the freedom to cool her throat with spring water from dented plastic bottles when she's thirsty. She yearns for challenges issued from the innocuous scritch of bitten pencils clenched in the hands of quietly subversive children who want to know more than how to force comparisons into the overlap two whiteboard circles share. She smirks at Scantrons and loses worksheets in the hallway, folding them into paper airplanes dull with smudges and angry Gothic doodles. She listens for gaps in instruction, for space between the disembodied squares of vocabulary words scattered across the wall at the back of the room like laminated flash cards with no answers provided. The last time I saw the teachable moment, she interrupted me in class to ask a question about how sheet lightning is different from those bright and jagged electric bolts that stun people's hearts and leave streaks of scorch on the ground around them. I stood still for a minute and waited to hear the raised and eager student voices of explanation and anecdote rush out in an unintelligible wave, but all anyone had to say was, "That's off topic. What are you thinking?" The teachable moment crossed her arms across her desk with her head down on them and fell asleep.

©Laura Sorrells 2009
all rights reserved

This piece was inspired by Dave Bonta. Here's a link to his prose poem, found at his blogsite Via Negativa: http://www.vianegativa.us/2009/07/teachable-moment/

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Georgia, United States
I live at the edge of the forest in a little town in the north Georgia mountains. I teach sixth grade Language Arts and am writing a memoir of sorts about family, spirituality, and narrative. I am also exploring a possible writing project having to do with contemporary lay contemplative experience and how it might be informed by the Desert Fathers and Mothers of early Christianity. I am a relatively recent convert to Roman Catholicism and an admirer of Pope Francis, Leonardo Boff, Joan Chittister, and Richard Rohr. I'm a Lay Associate of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Georgia. I am interested in indigenous cultures, narratives, and spirituality, especially how these can inform my spirituality as a lay contemplative. I write, read, take pictures, play around with creating ephemera from paper and cloth and other organic things. I cook, hike, watch wildlife, and collect random bits of interesting oddness, both tangible and abstract. I am a seer of smallness and a caretaker of ridiculous minutiae. If you want, e-mail me at riverrun67@gmail.com or lksorrells@hotmail.com.