Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Show and Tell

When I was 16 or so, that age of lost innocence and existential angst, I took a walk in a local New Jersey woods. I had been reading Thoreau parallel with memorizing the words to Bob Dylan’s Desolation Row, one reminding me of a fading sense of wonder and the other the soundtrack for my ennui. I sat by a lake and watched the rippling water and felt calmed and soothed and restored to a sense of co-participation in a beautiful world. While walking back to my car, I passed some people and gave a smile to share my little epiphany. And they returned it. It made me feel that it was one thing to have a special experience, but it wasn’t wholly complete until you shared it.

I thought about Thoreau, happily ensconced in his solitude, falling in love with shrub oaks and saying no to the lives of quiet desperation and yes to the countless miracles of the natural world. And yet what did he do during his two years there? Wrote a book about it to share it with the world. And came back to civilization to make sure it got published.

This was on my mind today teaching classes with three of this year’s six interns watching (the other three are in Visa Purgatory, a story still awaiting a hopefully happy ending). A class well-taught is its own reward and the pleasure it brings to both the children and the teacher is more than enough. But it all ratchets up a few notches higher when witnessed by eager music teachers thinking about their own present and future teaching. They saw three of my four classes and in the one I taught alone to the children, I found myself thinking, “Darn! I wish they had seen this one too!!” I could get spoiled here.

So that 16-year old intuition was right. Everything shines a bit brighter when it is shared and brighter yet when it is shared with people eager to see it. And I think I knew this even younger. When I was in elementary school, a shiny rock found in the park became the precious jewel that I couldn’t wait to bring to the circle time at school— we called it “Show and Tell.” So whether you’re 6 or 16 or 63, Show and Tell lives on!!

Now to plan tomorrow's classes so I have something worthy to show. And I hope the Interns don't tell if I don't!

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