Our culture is dominated by end results, the product. I struggle with this.
Reading Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones has pushed me to pay more attention to the process. This excerpt from the chapter entitled “Composting,” takes my breath away.
Our senses by themselves are dumb. They take in experience, but they need the richness of sifting for a while through our consciousness and through our whole bodies…we collect experiences, and from the decomposition of the thrown-out eggshells, spinach leaves, coffee grinds, and old steak bones of our minds come nitrogen, heat, and very fertile soil. Out of this fertile soil bloom our poems and stories. But this doesn’t come all at once. It takes time.
The last two lines not only speak to my writer’s mind, but to my sense as a learner. We need to honor and cultivate the process, the “composting” that builds and sustains learning. Respecting all aspects of the process, allowing time.
We need to place value not only on our students’ process, but our process as learners. Acknowledging that it’s ongoing, irritative and adjusting, continually composting.
We have our students for a very short time; our job is to guide them on their journey as learners as they add to our learning as educators.
The learning happens over time. Variations and aberrations exist; should be identified, studied and held up not as an indictment, but an opportunity. Pathways to better teaching and learning can grow out of studying the process.
Understanding the process cultvates patience and produces less anxiety. We aren’t running everything, not even the writing we do. At the same time, we must keep practicing.
Pages read; lines written
books considered, attempted, completed,
Notes, sketches, plans, decisions,
What I like,
who I am,
comments received, revision decisions,
a product, ever changing
Thank you, Anna, Beth, Betsy, Dana, Stacey and Tara of Two Writing Teachers blog for hosting the Slice of Life March Story Challenge. Read other bloggers slices here.