Monday, January 7, 2013

It's the Details That Count

Thinking about my experiences so far during this sabbatical, and also keeping in mind the changes I want to make next year in my teaching practice.

The sense-dense experiences I encountered during my two-week residency in the Catskills are so memorable. The sound of mice in the cabin walls in the dead of night. The feel of the roughly hairy, slightly waxy udders of the goats we miked. The smell of hay and decomposing manure in the semi-enclosed barn where the salt licks were, and where I dragged pails of fresh water to the animals. The sensation of light in all its gradations, pitch black of night, dark grey of wake up time, softening light of the walk down to the milking barn, bright warming light of mid-day, mist-opaque light of cold mornings, sharp bright light of late afternoon.

How to get students to be mindful of detail? To slow down. To observe and relish the tiny details that nourish and teach us? Is it unreasonable to expect busy college students to do this? Or is this a kind of re-training that may awaken new appreciations, new ways of thinking, maybe new insights?

How far we are in most of our busy days from the nearness of observation. Yet how much we may learn from it.

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