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This is the title of Chapter 8 in Teaching from the Middle of the Room. Wisdom provides perspective, solace, and meaning. Teaching without wisdom is like taking an absentee ballot in a voting booth. You do what you do but don’t really connect. 

The mystics see from universal space. The Vedas speak of looking from behind the eyes. The Taoists say the Tao is unnamed, the source from which all emanates. Rumi invites us to “Sell our cleverness and purchase bewilderment.” Eckhart Tolle speaks of the Now as the only reality. And, Robert Frost in “The Road Not Taken” voices the teacher-mystic in all of us. Oh, how we choose knowing we might have chosen differently! How we promise ourselves to return but keep on! And, how we look back and see our path as “… the one less traveled by/And that has made all the difference.”

This poem lives within me. When I first read it, I interpreted Frost as having taken life’s less-traveled road. I imagined me, too, on a less traveled road, uncommon to my colleagues—and most pleased with myself! But, later I discovered his real message comes from looking back—“I shall be telling this with a sigh/Somewhere ages and ages hence.” We rationalize our having taken a unique path when we had hardly any sense of it beforehand. Frost invites us instead to see our path—our teaching—for what it is rather than for what we think it has been.

We need to recognize and accept the realities of our teaching. While we may or may not take a less traveled road, we become wiser when we take time to reflect on the meaning of the one we chose. Unless we do, we will be denying ourselves access to the deeper meaning of our work. Knowing ourselves, knowing our preferences, after all, informs us of our adventure, one of our own making—and that makes all the difference.

Praise for Teaching from the Middle of the Room: I am so proud of you and honored to have had you for two of my “growing experiences” It is so nice when a person’s dream come true, especially an educator. After reading this I know I will become a better teacher. Thank you very much and I wish you continued success. ~Gale Barry, Roosevelt Elementary School, Melrose MA

Chapter 8 is the heart of the book––at least one of its hearts. Read all of it in Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting students to Learn from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Middle-Room-Frank-Thoms/dp/0615358918.

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