Face Value

Those that know me well will tell you that I have a face at which to marvel. Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves; I seem to have been blessed with a face that cannot but wear my thoughts as they meander cloud-like across both mind and face. And so you should have seen my face…

Oh, you should have seen my face, fixed in its gormless disbelief as (for the umpteenth time in my teaching career) I found myself holding the nose of the aforementioned face with the finger and thumb of my right hand, whilst pinching my right earlobe between the index finger and thumb of my left hand. The induction leader grinned, her eyes sparkling with scientific surety as she surveyed the seated semicircle of new teachers, all of us contorted in this above-the-neck game of Twister (all the while, my face playing its own game of Face-Twister as I try but fail to rail against the vaporous bars of the Brain Prison in which I – again – find myself incarcerated).

Lord, you should have seen my face (and I know that you did) when the student looked up from his copybook and told me that he was more of a visual learner. We read the twinkles in one another’s eyes (mine showing the storms of Asgard; his showing columns of cascading jewels in disintegrating lines of three) and he slowly settled down to his writing.

We think our work is done and we think the battle won, but it never is.

The teacher – a vigilant truthseeker – can only rest on his or her certainties for a while, until the next falsification fashions a new bend on the pedagogical pathway out of this pitch-black cave. The only choice, in this cave, is to feel forward toward the grey; to move, to move, to think, to move. Otherwise, there is the choice to sit on the moist stone floor, reaching around to grasp your earlobe with one hand and pinch your nose with the other – and derive some kind of curious, spurious comfort from the doing thereof.

Tomorrow (Monday), I return to my cave. But I return with a memory of light, a schema for escape and the judgement to compare the cold, wet comfort of the stone floor (with its self-fulfilling prophecies of an unknown future), to compare it with the startling sunlight of reason.

There’s a word to be spread and it is not one weighted with motives, bias and malintention. It is simply this: take nothing at face value when it comes to the great project of flourishment that is teaching and learning. Do not be skeptical for the sake of a short-term grasp at seeming to know what you don’t know; but be questioning of practices that speak ill to your bones.

There is more in Heaven and Earth than can be said, but can be seen. Look into my eyes, and (with unparalyzed balls) inch forward into the light of reason.

Basically, just go to a ResearchED conference. It amounts to the same thing.


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