Doubting Thomas by Mark Tansey found on Never Mind the Bricolage

Doubting Thomas by Mark Tansey found on Never Mind the Bricolage

I’ve been down lately. I just want to hole up in my apartment. I’ve started knitting. I’m reorganizing furniture. I’m spending way too much time on etsy. I’m escaping into books and movies.

At the beginning of the year I was so charged. Now, I find myself in this familiar pattern, questioning what I am doing, if it is what I need to be doing, and hiding out while I mull this over.

I’m tired most of the time.

The past few days I have been cooking with my mother, in preparation for a big party tonight, I’ve been knitting, going to movies. I’m finding myself wanting to be alone and resenting it when the phone rings.

I saw the movie Doubt on Christmas Day. I was enthralled. And, though the subject matter be completely distinct from what I live, I was struck by my own doubts. Doubts about my career, my relationships, and how they affect my sense of self.

It’s that last one that grips me. I’m not sure how to answer to that one. And how do I teach authentically, convincingly when I have such doubt?

So this is what I have been and am thinking about, as we roll into a new year, instead of posting to this blog. Instead of preparing for a session I am to lead at EduCon 2.1. Instead of correcting English essays. Instead of spending time with people.


  • Frumteacher says:

    Dear Tracy,

    I totally understand what you mean! It’s this time of the year, partly, that makes you want to stay inside and cuddle up. Besides I think every teacher has this kind of period every now and then. Teaching is a giving profession, and you can’t always continue giving. Sometimes you need some self-time, some time away from teaching, in order to sort things out. But after each such a period, you emerge stronger and more inspired!

    May 2009 be a wonderful, inspirational year for you and your loved ones.


    Frumteachers last blog post at [site]..Back to school

  • Michael Doyle says:

    Imbolc is what the Celts celebrated long before Punxsatawney was on the map.

    It’s all about the light.

  • Tracy says:

    There you go, bringing the warmth and light again :)

    Happy New Year to you too Michael.

    ps – what the heck is Imbolc?

  • Michael Doyle says:

    pssst…the light’s already coming back.
    Hang in there.

    In two weeks were back to November light.
    Only 5 weeks until Imbolc/Groundhog’s day.
    Less than three months until spring.

    Happy New Year!

  • Tracy says:

    Thanks for your kind words everybody.

    Beth, it’s nice to hear of how my words inspired you the other morning :)
    This is a time of rapid change for me, for my teaching and learning, and with the holiday break I’m having the chance to let the change wash over me. Overwhelming.

    Chris, thanks for reminding me of Nel Noddings, and what it means to care.

    Jose, you can bet I am – both reflecting and getting back on that horse ;)

    Michael and Ken – you are both absolutely right. Winter is horrible for me. Especially this year. For the first time in a long time I leave my house in the morning and my work in the evening without seeing the sun. ugh. Couple that with teaching new courses and studying… why aren’t I on a beach somewhere right now?

    So, here I go. Buckling in for the next 4 months of cold and dark. Luckily I have my readers to bring me warmth and light.

  • Ken Allan says:

    T?n? koe Tracy

    I concur with Michael here. I am convinced you would feel differently if you were in Australasia right now. The warmth, the UV, just the feeling of summer would make all the difference.

    When I get morose in winter, I think of summer:

    Days of Sun

    The hazy balmy days have come in fast,
    A garden-loose late-blooming tulip yawns,
    Limp petals soft from drooping roses cast,
    And daisies flourish on the feathered lawns;

    A cicada wakes from the nymphal sleep
    Then sheds the fragile nut-brown pupal shell,
    And so begins its steady skyward creep
    To chant the long percussive choric spell;

    The karo’s darkened pods crack and expose
    The cloying seed in clusters set to fall,
    A blackbird swoops down keen to interpose
    And sing his warbling chronicle to all;

    With these the days I long for have begun,
    The warm and lazy summer days of sun.

    Best wishes for the coming New Year
    from Middle-earth

  • Michael Doyle says:

    It’s freakin’ December–late December at that.

    You are a mammal–and thank God for that.
    Still, it’s what you are.

    And look at your latitude.

    Reassess in May–until then, pretend we’re above biology, above evolution, above life.
    And I mean “we’re” in the both of us sense, not the Royal “we” sense.

    I missed your words, but I can wait until the sun comes back.

    You’re better than you know.

  • Jose says:

    I completely understand your sentiments. I empathize even. Those doubts can really pose a threat to your psyche and self-esteem. As others have said, reflect, reflect, and reflect some more. Then, get back on that proverbial horse.

  • Nel Noddings, in her earliest work, talked about the role of care in establishing an ethical conception of being with others. She took a contrary position to contractarian and liberal theorists, who argue that humans are by their nature adversarial – contracts and compacts for these theorists are required for societies to be born and flourish. Noddings insisted that we care about other people, and that on the basis of our care for others we engage in the world. One of the challenges that was (and continues to be) levelled against her is that an open, caring ethic suggests that we always care for others, that we always give without constraint.

    Noddings insisted that there is a point where a caring individual does have to withdraw so that they can preserve themselves. While she isn’t explicit, I always took this to mean that there are points where we must retreat to be with ourselves, to become grounded in what we are. It is exhausting caring for others, and when you are a type of person who gives until you can give no more that exhaustion can give rise to doubt, a doubt about one’s capacity and willingness to care. During the period of re-grounding, where we seek ourselves again after being for others so prominently, we reorient our perceptions of self and the world.

    I would suggest that you don’t read a doubt as a questioning of one’s actual self worth or value; doubt can instead be read as a re-grounding of the self, and a critical examiniation of the modes and means of caring that are available. Take time to hide away, and reorient yourself after your experiences. That you are willing to step back and consider your situation is positive, but do what you can to maintain a positive evaluation of what has been, what is, and what might be – don’t let your doubt turn into a devaluation of your willingness to care for others.

    Christopher Parsonss last blog post at [site]..Thoughts: Why do I focus on digital privacy issues?

  • Beth Holmes says:

    Well, Tracy, your post about “doubt” certainly pushed my thinking today! I first read your blog around 10:00 this morning. Three hours later, I am returning to your blog from links you provided to EduCon2.1. The EduCon link led me to the “pocket guide to probing questions” on the Protocols page. From that point I moved on to my own professional development course for educators who are “Leading the Learning” in our schools. Throughout this “wandering,” I kept your “doubts” at the forefront of my thinking.

    So, what and why is Tracy doubting? And, why do her doubts resonate with me? I’ve come back to share that I think EVERYONE has shades of doubt during times of rapid change. I think we all grapple with the difficult changes that confront education and the profound consequences of our actions in this pivotal time. I think you have every right – and need – to retreat and sort through your ideas in a quite space that allows for reflection and growth. It is hard to be “at the front” (as you are) of change. It is exhausting. The “incubation period” that you are describing is probably essential if you are going to continue birthing new and innovative ideas. I think it is hard to lead the charge over the long haul. Recognizing the need to retreat, to doubt, and to regroup is a positive step. I wanted to be sure you could see the “doubt” as positive thing.

    And while you are doubting, will you just know that your blog took me on a path to learning and productivity this morning? Isn’t it good to know that as you retreat for a bit – others still benefit from your candor? Thank you, Tracy, for taking the time to doubt. I can’t wait to see the good that will surely come from your period of thoughtfulness!

    Beth Holmess last blog post at [site]..STUDENT Conferences are the Answer

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