Monday, March 29, 2010

Good Administration

Through the wonder of Facebook, I recently had the good fortune of reading a poem that did what good poetry does – it moved me. It was written by Lew Kahler, Dean of Arts and Humanities, here at MVCC. It describes the supreme challenges associated with good teaching and succinctly captures the essence of the magic when learning happens. I connected with the poem from my own teaching experience, and my experience as an administrator focused on organizational learning. That phrase, “those who can’t do, teach” has always cut me the wrong way, especially with the corresponding addition, “and those who can’t teach administer.” We so often hear about the importance of good leadership and rarely talk about the manner in which leadership manifests itself in good administration or good management. While good teaching changes student lives at the micro level, good administration changes student lives at the macro level. It’s what keeps me going every day, helping the College learn, develop, and do a little better every day for our students and our community. The last nine lines of the poem culminating in, ”as a thought sets in and changes the course of a life" puts that poetic blanket around our organizational vision of transforming lives...one day, one conversation, one thought at at time. As National Poetry Month kicks off this week on April 1st, it’s my pleasure to share this poem with you. If you have any thoughts here, please contact me at presblog@mvcc.edu.

Poem # 75 - “Good Teaching”

He espoused, the old cliché,
“Those who can’t do, teach.”
I wanted to reach
across the table
and choke him.
but violence
rarely proves a point,
so I sat and waited.
He was jaded,
had made good money
at a job he hated
with a wife he no longer loved
and a house that had become a burden
of affluence.
“You were a teacher,” he said,
sipping his drink
as I suppressed a feeling of dread.
“How would you define good teaching?”
“It’s reaching,” I said “beyond any thought you can grasp.
It’s hoping that through it all
a light will shine
inside a mind
that will release someone
from the bonds of their own limitations.
It is struggling each day
to stay above water
as the tides
of ignorance rise.
It is slashing at windmills
climbing the hills of bullshit
that are piled on the young
by an uneducated,
high-strung, self-important society.
It is quiet hours of despair.
It is the shatteringly self-aware doubt
that nothing you say matters.
It is that moment,
when what you say,
that idea phrased in a certain way-
that moment of delay,
as a thought sets in
and changes the course of a life."