Becoming A Thaumaturgist*

July 15, 2010

We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams. • Willie Wonka

It’s my last day of teaching until fall. I’ve been teaching six days a week and traveling on the seventh and I’m ready for a break. It’s not that I mind teaching. I’m grateful both for the interactions with students and for the opportunities to keep learning.

There’s no way to teach with passion without continuing to learn. When you teach, you look at the world differently. You listen to the radio with teacher ears, watch television and movies with teacher eyes, and scrutinize just about everything you see for its usefulness in the classroom. You read books and magazines and newspapers and websites differently. Your walks through the neighborhood or through the mall or on the beach or in the woods become ideafests.

You think once, twice, three times before tossing away an empty box or a paper sack or leftover yarn or other bits and pieces and scraps. Lots of it you get rid of because you know there’s no way you can store it all (although I try), but you become a hoarder of ideas, an imaginer of possibilities, a magician of what ifs, taking this and turning it into that for the delight of your students.

I teach experienced teachers as well as those who will just be getting their first classroom in the fall and if I could give each of them a single gift, it would be the gift of boundless enthusiasm for their job. I am tired, but I am not tired of teaching.

It isn’t just teachers who function as thamaturgists in the world. How can you bring delight into someone’s life today, this week, this year?

Anyone who can be replaced by a machine deserves to be. • Dennis Gunton

* A thaumaturgist is a magician, a worker of wonders and miracles.

Note: I will be presenting at a conference next week, so will be on the road and sporadically connected as I’m able to be. I’ll be posting when I can.


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