Thinking and Becoming

image from: The Cabinet of Curiosities

A scream of a shout-out this time, once again, to Jose. I finally got around to reading some of his poetry on The Poetry Cafe and this one ripped a hole through me, enough to consider adding it to my short list of poems I insist kids read.

You too, read it.

I Think Therefore I Am…
By Jose Vilson

If there’s one thing
every leader agrees on
It’s that you are what you say you are
You become the person you think you are
I cried as a baby, so I stayed close to the womb
I crawled for food so I stayed under the parental umbrella
I followed the rules in school,
so I stayed subservient to my teachers
I said I wasn’t worth this life as a young one,
So the rest of my body almost followed suit with a successful dip by the
Williamsburg Bridge
I thought I couldn’t defend myself,
so I became roadkill for bullies, bullshitters, and racists
I thought I couldn’t face myself, so I became ugly
I told myself I wasn’t worth shit, so my skin started to reek
I thought I was too broke to hang with these preppies in my high school,
So I found my wallets empty often
I pinched my skin and thought it was thin,
so even people I thought were friends tried to get under it
Because I thought these friends were,
but they thought not to act on that thought
Hence, the thundering in my chest was
my heart beating from the bleeding in my back
from the knives slicing down my spine
And I said G_d existed,
but because I thought he was
from me and what I was doing,
I found myself looking for him in hood heroes,
NBA superstars,
and everyone but the father I couldn’t will back into my life
My thoughts turned to a revolution
Delusions of grandeur turned to self-improvement
So the first thought I thought was
And instantly my own holy spirit glowed like a torch
Its light shown all across the room
And I thought I was a poet so my pen flowed furiously
Through thousands of unused looseleaf
Letters to the universe to set my verse free
From the pressures of perfection felt from my youth
And I thought I’d live forever through the memories
Of my many loved ones, acquaintances, my disciples,
People I might have even just brushed upon
And people reading this in a similar condition
A promising living legend thinking this might come to fruition…

Mr. Wasserman re-directs

Thanks to Jose for pointing me towards Mr. Wasserman who I NEED to applaud for writing this:

I don’t want this to be a complaining post. Nobody likes reading those, for starters, and May is such a great time of year to try to be happy. So instead, I’ve been thinking about things I can do which will raise my ability to respect myself as a teacher, which should translate into improvements, at least in my immediate sphere.

I’m digging the way he re-focuses his malaise towards what we can do to create positive change. How many times have I heard complaints about how our students:

It is rare that I see someone considering what to do as an alternative to complaining. Mr. Wasserman reflectively concludes:

But I want to focus on giving my students only meaningful work to do, only things that have a clear value to them. the trick, I suppose, is to figure out what those things are.

Yes, that is the trick. And I think it is really easy to do –> We need to spend more time talking with our students than at them. Well, at least the first part is easy. The second part is integrating what we find out with the curriculum we are teaching. I think that is what makes teaching an art.

I’ll be heading back to read Mr. Wasserman again.
Thanks Jose.