I really adore my Yoga Teacher (Sariane Leigh). OK, come back some of you wandering minds! Now this is an old-fashion word that is either slipping away (from its old usage), from lack of use; or having lost its power by its continued use in a minimalist way, as in: “I adore your outfit”; or has drifted away from its true meaning as it serves as “just another word” in some of our favorite love songs. I like the “old version” of the holding someone in high regard, in high esteem, in a place of great respect and honor. The context/meaning I am using “adore”, is the feeling you have for a person who gives you something that is greater than a gift of money, silver or gold. The gift they are giving you can’t be brought at any price; after encountering this person, you are simply, and essentially, not the “same” person. She is very much a master teacher because (For you professional educators I offer the “pedagogical rubric”), although I am aware that I am in a class of 20+ people; I always feel like I am the only student in the room, alone, and learning from the teacher. Yesterday we had a wonderful workshop on promoting a healthy lifestyle (my title). The question of quantitative and qualitative goals came up. After spending 30+ years in a heavily quantitative educational professional setting; I realized that I have always “pushed back” to open the door for an equal representation of qualitative measures; which I think are equally important. For example: “Do students feel safe and honored?”; Do you the principal know them as an individual student, not as just the “student body?”; “Do parents feel welcomed and appreciated?”; “Does the staff and faculty feel supported, do they feel you care about them as individual persons; not as just faceless position holders?” One of the most important qualities of an educator is “Efficacy” (essentially what we as adults are willing to do, to sacrifice in order to make a student successful) I am not sure how to quantify it mathematically; but I can immediately recognize its elements in a teacher, and students also know it when they see it! And even at this point in my career I am still not completely sure as to how you professionally develop efficacy in an educator. I saw “efficacy” in the eyes, and heard it in the voice of a teacher I met at a conference in San Francisco, many years ago. That gentleman (Jaime Escalante; the real guy ,not the “Stand and Deliver” actor) was overflowing with the spiritual fire that ignited his expectation that he would be successful with all of his students, no matter what it would mean for him personally. You left his presence with the sense that he would exhaust all of his personal resources to push his kids to a win! There is a belief (I believe) that every educator must bring to the battle. The idea that God has presented, and charged you with a divine being (not just a classroom of beings); and it is your responsibility to assist that student to realize their full possibility and calling in this world. And when we fail at this mission (which we do from time to time); that individual is not the only one harmed; in fact harm is visited (by that individual) upon someone else, or upon the entire planet; in fact, upon all of humanity; yea, the entire universe. I have found on many occasions that the his-story line of a student “bully”; is most often himself a victim of psychological and/or physical bullying at home (sometimes it is 5 minutes into the parent conference and you say: “OK, I see where this child’s anger is coming from!”)
I always think about the power of a student encountering an educator that embodies efficacy, after a Boston Marathon like tragedy. Perhaps this is just my personal bias concerning what I believe to be the “Power of Education”. I think that at some point in the past these two perpetrators were children in somebody’s school. And what if some teacher, custodian or cafeteria worker could have opened their hearts to the idea that, no matter how painful, or even possibly justifiable their grievance, it could never justify the hurt and harm inflicted on innocent people. What if some educator taught them to think like Nelson Mandela; that under the most harsh and oppressive conditions, you have the power of not denying your own humanity, by seeking to deprive others of their humanity. I imagine that if we could just get people who because of their personal pain, choose to respond to that pain by inflicting pain on the world. If we could only get them into a loving, meta-cognitive, self-actualizing and nurturing classroom. A place that is driven by the powerful spirit of adult efficacy; we could, I believe, greatly reduce the amount of tears in the world. Is this wishful thinking? Is it, in the words of The Temptations: “Just my imagination”? I hope not, as I so adore, and despite our many failings, hope for the better, and best from the members of my species.