Friday, April 29, 2005

"Your desk is so messy, Mrs. Ris!"

In honor of the picture above of my messy desk, I am including this insightful post from Susan Ohanian :

Resisting the Specter of Fierce Neatness
By Susan Ohanian
Posted: 2005-04-28

You will try. And try again. And again. And you will smile. Because it’s so much healthier than crying or throwing up. —Molly Ivins Whenever my principal complained about my mess of a desk with “Cluttered desk, cluttered mind,” I responded in kind, “Empty desk, empty mind.” In our tough city school, this ritual exchange Substituted for, “Have a nice day.”

Appearances notwithstanding, I admire tidiness, and yes, I’m tempted by the Lorelei lure of all those sleek organizational systems on the Web offering me a beautifully organized Future. But life intrudes, and I’m skeptical of form triumphing over substance. Years ago, then-New York Times metro reporter Michael Winerip wrote a fascinating piece about a member of the Association of Professional Organizers, people paid top dollar for organizing other people’s closets. Winerip asked to see the professional organizer’s own closet and reported that for every piece of clothing, this woman keeps a note card of matching accessories: With her green suit, she always wears her green shoes, amber pin, and beige pocketbook. “I never have to think about anything, it’s great,” she said. I used to pull out this clipping when speaking at conferences, insisting that teaching isn't neat and tidy and predictable.

Don't Iknow it! I've come to believe that the best teaching comes from an openess in our environment that encourages "truth-seeking". Parker Palmer reminds me that obstacles to this openess often come "within us; we often create them ourselves to evade the challenge of truth and transformation". When I attend to the neatness and organization of my work space, that becomes my focus. The business of teaching and learning takes a back seat, and student achievement is compromised. So I have come to accept my quirky piles as part of the package. Besides, if I want to feel better, I just head on down to the reading teacher's room and check out her REALLY REALLY BIG MESS!

No comments: