Friday, January 25, 2013

Letting go...

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.
~ Havelock Ellis

Some of my students using the Rory Story Cubes.  :)

Teaching is like sewing, in that neither one is a single skill, but rather each is a complex interaction of many technical abilities and intuitive, creative impulses...  :)

One of my strengths in teaching (I think) has to do with seeing the underlying, inherent structure in any content that I understand.  It feels like complicated clouds of information just naturally fall into systematic, logical patterns in my mind.  Even as far back as high school I remember people telling me that I was good at explaining things in a way that was easy to understand...  

Although, to be fair, as far back as high school people were also bringing up the old saying, "I ask for the time and you tell me how a watch is made" about me!  ;)

On the other hand, one of my weaknesses (and, of this, I am sure!) is letting go - letting an aide lead an activity - letting my students "run wild" in an open-ended activity...  

I mean, what if they don't follow my carefully structured plan?  What if they wander off the path that I laid out for them?  Why, who knows what could happen?  The world might come to an end!  ;)

So, this is my third year teaching ESL, and I am happy to be able to report that I am actually getting a little better at this...  

Don't get me wrong - it's slow.  And sometimes a little painful.  But, bit by bit, I am doing a little more "letting go" in my classes and noticing that, not only has the world not ended, but sometimes good things actually happen!  

Hopefully, someday, I will achieve that "fine mingling of letting go and holding on" that H. Ellis described...  

How about you?  Have you achieved that "fine mingling" in your life?  Do you think this idea applies to sewing too?  


  1. Oh Yes, I do think this applies to sewing. You must learn to allow imperfections in your sewing, while your building your skills. The first time you do anything, its unlikely you will do it well, sufficiently yes, but expertise takes practice and lots of repetition. You must "let go" in order to move forward.

    In pondering this an illustration comes to mind of a cycling team. In this type of team sport there is a captain, but everyone takes a turn as the point man. Maybe we can apply this to our teaching somehow?

    1. Hey Lynne,
      You make a good point about sewing - it's interesting because, as you say, you have to accept some imperfections just so that you keep going and don't get stalled... But at the same time, you have to keep striving to get better over time.
      I really like your cycling example for our teaching - I think it would help my students if I had them take turns being "in charge" and responsible for helping/teaching the others. I need to think about how to incorporate this in my class... :)
      Thanks, Lynne! :)

  2. Yes, it does apply to sewing. If one follows the instructions to the letter, they will find errors in the pattern. Also, there are many better and more efficient ways to do many things than the pattern instructions tell us to do. If we don't venture out from the information given us in the patterns, we would never grow in our skills.

    1. That's a good point, Gwen - the pattern instructions aren't perfect and they don't show the only way (or even necessarily the best way) to do something. It's a good starting point for beginners, but in order to grow we need to be able to let go and venture out on your own a bit - experiment and learn and grow. :)