When I was the age of my students, I wrote this poem:
My soul is exhausted from breaking,
My heart is tired of beating-
My mind aches of not understanding,
My body trembles from loving;
And you say simply: ‘it will pass’.
At the time this represented for me a cry of suffering and of anguish.
Now it touches me with its irony and its deeper perception. Youth and age speak from different perspectives and you cannot see both at once.
In this drawing one can perceive either a young girl or an old woman, but you cannot see both at once:
Youth and age are dialectical; the wisdom of age is (hopefully) a growing humility; an appreciation of the subtlety, complexity and nuance of the patterns of perception and an appreciation of the limits of our power to explain. While youth rises up and grasps the world in all its freshness and newness. Age can be impeded by the thickness of its glasses and the rigour of its habits, youth by its failure to see beyond itself.
Only through listening to the descriptions of that other world which we cannot see can we encompass the pattern of the dance and grasp life in its wholeness.
We must respect the values of innocence and experience and be ready to listen in the classroom – and outside.