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the power of self-discloure …

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Reading the comments to yesterday’s post reminded me of my own explorations (about 11 years ago) into early techers’ influences on me. Once past the horror stories of abuse and neglect, I suddenly remembered this one:

“List children: something important,” says Frau Schaper, dressed, as always, impeccably elegant, her hair coiffed in ways I’d never seen before, a string of pearls set against a deep-blue twin set. We sat in rows on wooden benches, itching to be dismissed for the summer, restrained only by her somber demeanor.

“It is possible,” she continued, “that I won’t be your teacher this autumn.” After being our home-room teacher for grades 3 and 4, custom demanded that she’d pass us on to another teacher. But, she explained, she’d been in conference with the principal. “I begged to keep you for another year.”

“I don’t want to give you up,” she told us, her tears no longer a secret. And there we sat, all 25 of us, unsure of what to make of such a display of intimacy.

According to my notes, I wept as I remembered — my heart touched by the realization that there had been this adult, a distant person in authority, who’d reached down to link her heart to ours by a simple act of self-disclosure. No longer a horde of unruly urchins, she’d made us her precious chicks, casting herself as protective hen.

“But how did you come burning down like a / wild needle knowing / just where my heart was?” asks Mary Oliver, the poet. In recalling this incident I’d come upon the source of my caring and compassionate nature — a nature hitherto overshadowed by the trauma of war and family dysfunction.

image: source unknown


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