The Ancient Modern
Poetic Education / Joshua Alan Sturgill
I am living among teachers at the moment, so this question comes up frequently: What does it mean to be an educator?
When I think of teachers who have most influenced me, it seems that being an educator means to increase first in yourself a sense of wonder and your connection to God, to life, to joy. An educator becomes the context for others’ education. Wisdom fills us up until it spills over into the lives of the people around us.
Poets, musicians, artists—are all educators. Especially if their art is the result of contemplation, study, and love of beauty. An artist who creates simply for the sake of production can impress us, but not bring us closer to our humanity.
There is a formal aspect to education: math and language, etc. As “subjects,” these are little more than things which are external to us or memories we may carry or not… like leaves carried downstream. But the current beneath them is the teacher, filled up and spilling over into the lives of the students. Real teaching, then, means to impart something unique and personal. To kindle a new fire with one already burning.
True and lasting education is, from the point of view of the teacher, the careful spilling out of one’s inner life, a kind of cultivated over-abundance. From the student’s point of view, true education is what grows spontaneously from gratitude, humility and a longing to learn.