Saturday, December 8, 2007

Balancing the Equation

My brother, Jim, honored me today with a post on his blog. Please stop reading Mr. Kindergarten now and jump over to Jim's blog before you finish this post.

Go here: Gurney Journey

We fill with gratitude when we think of teachers who have been especially important to us.

I sincerely hope that everyone reading this post can think of at least one superlative teacher, a teacher, mentor, or coach who really matters to you, who helped you on your path.

Perhaps you can remember a teacher who wrapped you in warm acceptance and approval, or one who was able to dispel a seemingly impenetrable confusion, or one who gave you the courage to dream seemingly impossible dreams for yourself, or one who demanded that you work hard enough to uncover the excellence hidden inside you that only that teacher knew was there.

If you think about teaching from a student's point of view, you can see only half the picture. To balance the equation, please consider the student's contribution. A teacher cannot teach without the presence of a student. Students play a vital role that in the lives of teachers.

And that's what I want to talk about today because, as I said at the top, my brother, Jim, honored me today.

I must say, I feel grateful to Jim. For Jim was really my first student, and a really good one, at that.

I am seven years older than Jim, and by the time he was in second grade anyone could see his drawings were almost as good as mine. I gave him the few drawing tips I knew, and, well, he ran with them. Very soon his drawings were much better than mine.

I suppose I could have felt embarrassed to have a brother so much younger than me do better drawings. One of his early a drawings, a sailboat, as I recall, was published in the "Young Artist's Corner" in the San Francisco Chronicle. He won, I think, $5.00 — enough to buy that catamaran pictured here. I never felt embarrassed that Jim could draw so much more skillfully than I; I felt proud of him.

And I got something very valuable from our little drawing lessons in our shared bedroom in Los Altos. I learned that I could teach.

We shared more than drawing. Jim seemed to like whatever I liked, bikes, sailboats, whatever. He was an ideal kid brother. Here's a picture of two of the sailboats we took to the Palo Alto Harbor duck pond. That's Jim there. The catamaran was faster than the 12 meter, by the way.

Being Jim's big brother in many ways conditioned me to become an educator, a life's work for which I feel boundless gratitude.

So, thank you, Jim.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

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