all of my favorite teachers have been imperfect teachers. without exception, each has disappointed me, shown personal prejudice or weakness, not, in some pivotal moment, known how to support me through my own weaknesses. still, the lessons of these imperfect teachers have and will continue to remain indelibly infused into my view of the world and my ability to operate in it.
these men and women, who have been mentors, friends, family members, and classroom instructors — did they struggle with a self-knowledge of imperfection? did they push off writing down lesson plans, accepting leadership roles, developing trusting relationships lest, in the process, they realized the inevitable incongruity of their imagined ideal lesson-gift and the forecastable realistic outcome of giving it?
reflecting on my own insecurities as i prepare a once-monthly, two-hour workshop for young adults at the library where i am now working, i know without hesitation that i, too, will be an imperfect teacher. i am terrified to pin down a lesson plan. but, despite the fact that i have already written and submitted a broad description of the program, i am facing a real deadline for a press release that is due tomorrow and dreading the act of finalizing even a concrete theme for each of the three dates i have thus far committed to.
what if my three themes are lame? what if they fail to be eye-catching? what if i fail to produce interest in my potential audience? what if i am destined to nebulous, abstract, incoherency in my creative world? what if two hours of creative leadership are simply more than i have in me?
of course, one concrete step leads to the next – if i give myself a simple form, a skeleton frame of simple exercises will fall into line; likewise, “creative leadership” can be as simple as providing form, time, space, and materials and then letting creative minds do their own things. that’s the whole idea of the workshop, after all. i am not out to develop an assembly line, producing a high-end machine whose specs must be perfect in order for me and my posse (of participants-to-be) to achieve “success”.
i will be an imperfect teacher. i will not only play 52-card pick up tomorrow as i write out the details of my press release, i will boldly accept the baffling mess my hand of strewn-and-collected brainstorm ideas represents, and play a round of poker with them, naming my own stakes.
watch out, tomorrow! press release coming…