25 October 2016

How We Learn






She stood in front of her class listening to evil and withholding judgement.  Even students she disagreed with had a right to education, so she guided them toward tools for building clearer and more effective arguments.  When they pressured her to speak on the issues, she made sure to argue both sides.  Good debaters know their opponent’s argument as well as their own. Besides, it was never more than a tenth of the class who challenged her like this—skinheads and racists, communists and religious fanatics, the pro-war and pro-life, homophobes and misogynists.  She sat to read their persuasive essays and to evaluate their speeches, trying to comment objectively.  Some believed what they said, and others were testing out opinions to discover their own thoughts.  It’s best that they hear each other, she thought, that they learn honest debate, that they see fallacious reasoning and evaluate devices used to trick them into agreement.  She saved her feelings for the journal pages she vomited in nightly in order to sleep. She prayed then to be forgiven for not speaking truth to these growing powers, and she prayed for them all.

You are the Sower.
If love and respect you show,
then love’s seeds will grow.

#

For my prompt Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Neutrality / Objectivity that will open Wednesday at 6 AM Central.  (I was never as neutral as this "she.")

 My blog poems are rough drafts. 
Please respect my copyright.

© 2016 Susan L. Chast



14 comments:

Old Egg said...

How important it is to listen as well as to speak and how important it is to encourage rather than tell. Sometimes those seeds take time to germinate but hopefully they will in time.

Anonymous said...

Good debaters know their opponent’s argument as well as their own.... well said Susan!! It is impossible to remain neutral at all times, maybe sometimes ill advised too. But love and respect always works.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

"She prayed then to be forgiven for not speaking truth to these growing powers, and she prayed for them all..." sigh it's incumbent that we as individuals voice our opinion from time to time. Beautifully penned (as always) ❤️


Lots of love,
Sanaa

Gillena Cox said...

This is a very powerful haibun, the need for objectivity in the profession of teacher, is certainly a must.

Thanks for another tough challenge today

much love...

Maude Lynn said...

This powerfully and truthfully captures the dilemma that teachers often find themselves in in a Red State. Well, at least I did!

Marja said...

This resonates with me a lot What a wise teacher I like how you say that some are just testing their opinions. They are searching for the right answers. Taking that into consideration is already quite objective. These last lines are so beautiful and true If we sow seeds of respect and love that is what you reep Thank you

Mary said...

Sometimes objectivity and neutrality are hard. I do think it would be hard to listen objectively to someone defending something I absolutely did not believe in. Skinheads, for example. Racists. Fanatics. Homophobes. Etc. I went to the movie "Denial" yesterday which involved the true story of a man who denied the Holocaust. I would have a hard time being objective and neutral about his opinions. It is probably good that I am not a debate coach. I would not be as neutral as 'she' either.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

As you sow, so shall ye reap. More or less.

kaykuala said...

She prayed then to be forgiven for not
speaking truth to these growing powers

Neutrality is more of holding back than espousing one's own position in the face of strong opinions. Agreed Susan!

Hank

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Wow, it would be hard to hold onto neutrality in that situation. Thank heaven for your ability to write some release.

Therisa's World said...

As I read this poem, I remember one of my university prof, who is the antithesis of your poem, in his critical but undying support for Canada. At the time, Canada was, in the midst of 20 years of constitutional talks that almost torn the country apart, along English (English Canada)/French (Quebec). Wonder how many students left his lectures with a better and more informed view on Canada and how fragile, true freedom is.

Poppy said...

From beginning to end, this piece reads like a movie scene, for me. I devoured it quickly, and with every sentence, I could imagine each character and their respective expression caught in a close up, to be studied for its view, (subjective), then landing on the teacher (neutral), before jumping to the next. It's hard to be objective when dealing with such subjective material!

Poppy

rallentanda said...

Vomiting into the journal papers at night is a graphic image. I don't think you would have these problems teaching in a country like China where students sit quietly and take notes.The teacher is God:)

Intelliblog said...

Fantastic haibun, Susan! Spoken like a true teacher. It is only by being exposed to everything that students learn to distinguish the wheat from the chaff!