Things I Know 83 of 365: Thoughts are like fine wine and Paul Newman

It’s sad to grow old, but nice to ripen.

– Brigitte Bardot

An envelope arrived for me at school today. I’d been expecting it, but it wasn’t at the top of my brain. That made it all the better.

Val Sherman who used to write with me at The Daily Vidette when I was in college happened upon some old papers a couple of months ago and asked me if I wanted copies of my old columns.

Before I was a blogger, I was a columnist for three and a half years in university. It was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

I took the envelope of almost 20 columns into Chris’s office to read and eat my lunch. I passed him a clipped column to read, saying, “This is me in a past life.”

He read it.

“I don’t think I agree with you here,” he said.

“I don’t think I agree with myself,” I replied.

I’ve read several of the columns tonight. Interesting mile markers of my thinking from a decade ago, they’ve also helped me to see who I am now.

In one I said, “It’s amazing how you notice a place moving so quickly when you step out of it.”

I’m amazed at how much I notice myself having changed as I step out of being who I was.

Though I never came out and wrote it, my column was the place I tried to work through my own demons. I lamented what I saw as the weakening of the Separation Clause. I argued acceptance over tolerance. I recounted a Christmas with my father’s family and having to defend my liberal social politics.

I can’t say these aren’t views I hold now. Ten years later, though, I understand them better. I can believe them better because I’ve let myself see their imperfections and listened to differing points of view.

This summer, my grad program asked me to write my philosophy of education. I sat down to draft it. Not surprisingly, it was a distillation of many of the ideas I write here. When I was done, I searched for one of the many 3-ring binders teachers are required to keep to make themselves appear more teachery.

In the binder, I found the first philosophy of education I ever wrote as part of the portfolio I was compelled to complete before being allowed to begin my student teaching.

I looked at the pages 8 years after their drafting and then returned to my newly drafted philosophy. It turned out it wasn’t so new.

Like the ideas I found today in my columns, my philosophy then was my philosophy now without the wisdom of age.

My ideas had been untried. I was working with what I thought I saw on the horizon. I could only speak as a student then. Now, I can speak as both teacher and student.

Today in class, one of my students was arguing against the television media’s coverage of the divorce of a celebrity. His argument was reductive and simplistic. It made suppositions based on half truths and asked the other students in the room to ignore the missing halves.

I put on my teacher hat and offered guidance.

When I was done, I was fairly certain the kid would make the same mistake over and over again for the next few years.

Reading my columns, I know I’ve done a fair bit of that myself. Knowing where I am now compared to where I was then, though, assuages any worry I have over that student or any other. Time and experience are decent tutors.

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