Ralph Waldo Emerson and an immortal sea creature… Quick, what do they have in common?!
Watch the following video and we’ll get to the connection later on…
Ralph Waldo Emerson was a bit of a nut… but I appreciate his work. In his earlier works he made lots of sense and in his later works… well… he kind got crazy.
During one of his crazier moments he wrote the following:
…speak what you think today in words as hard as cannon balls, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today. Ah, then, exclaim the aged ladies, you shall be sure to be misunderstood! Misunderstood! It is a right fool’s word. Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood….
I immediately thought of a kaleidoscope.
A single light source shines through one end, but on the other end several different colors pierce through in a beautiful way. And then… as my A.D.D. mind tends to do… I thought of my present role as a classroom coach (and the human condition… but that’s always on my mind).
My job, in part, is to walk into a persons classroom (and mind) and focus their attention on the great things they are doing. One of the ways me and my fellow coaches do this is to ask questions that provoke reflection. As teachers reflect on their practice, the questions become more refined and the answers become more actionable in nature.
As a former teacher, I might answer those same questions differently. Asa coach, though, it’s not about ME and my answers. It’s about the teachers and their goals.
We’re two different people with a variety of different opinions. So what is the commonality that we share? It’s the kaleidoscope’s source of light… it is the teacher’s goal…the student’s success… which is my goal as well.
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Student’s success and fulfillment as a human being in a particular class is the light. The different ways different teachers teach so their students get closer to self-fulfillment are the different colors in the kaleidoscope. As coach, I am the tube that brings these two elements into focus. I ask teachers what they want to work with in particular and I help the teacher focus on their own awesomeness… I help the teacher recognize their own awesomeness. I help the teacher refine their own awesomeness. The kaleidoscope of colors from different pedagogical approaches is illuminated by the same light (which is the student). Different colors may imply separation, but the colors come from a source that embodies all of those colors … the light. Separateness is made possible by unity.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said to say what you believe today as hard as canon balls today and if your approach changes tomorrow… say that as hard as cannon balls.
The TRUTH never changes, but our moment by moment existence does. Those that don’t see “the light” think that the kaleidoscope of colors either comes from them and that THEY are the source of the light.
We experience the truth as imperfect vessels. When we try to transmit that truth we do it as imperfect coveters of that truth. Our communication of TRUTH is not the same as truth… but some of us think it is.
Some of us think that we are SHINY because we house the light when we really are only transmitters of that light.
We may “sparkle like a diamond in the rough”… but the sparkle is made possible by the interaction of light and the gem…the perfect and imperfect.
As a coach, I help teacher see that they’re doing the RIGHT thing most of the time. There may be a more efficient way do be even more awesome and that more efficient way is found by asking the diamond to align itself to the light in a different way.
The crab got it wrong. He’s not shiny.
Old Ralph got it right… if you’re one color one day and a different color another day… give credit to the light and own your color of the day.
The crab would see this as crazy. I say #OwnYourCrazy