I’m just about done with grading. Which means that I’m likely nowhere close, but I’m trying. I’m digging myself out of academic holes because life just keeps on intervening. I dedicate hours to grade and, invariably, someone needs something that just has to be done right now!
Or I get distracted.
But I have graded about a dozen essays. I am ready for tomorrow. I’m ready to jump into the classoom and work and talk about Post-Colonialism in Africa. I’m ready to move forward.
But I also wanted to write but I couldn’t think of anything to write. So, I went to google and typed in “random word.”
Found a random word generator.
First word: inquiring.
Hated it. Started clicking.
Other words. Couldn’t stand them. And then I kept on coming back to inquiring.
Naturally, my mind went to The National Inquirer and how “Inquiring minds want to know.”
But I don’t want to inquire into the lives of celebrities and royalty. Let them have their lives. I have enough in my world for me to experience a million lives and don’t need to experience other people’s, even if only through a very existential link.
But I do want to inquire.
To ask, to examine. To seek out information and apply it to my own life.
I am reading essays ranging from concussions to genome therapy to basketball to battles during the end of the Middle Ages. I am reading essays about scoliosis and Rocky Horror Picture Show and I can see how the students peeled back their own limits of knowledge and explored worlds that were only beginning to open for them.
To inquire, to ask, to question, to take one’s ignorance and demolish it and then to reconstruct ignorance into knowledge and intelligence.
How much time have I spent questioning things. Questioning my sense of identity…
Questioning my job and whether or not I was fit to continue doing the work I have started.
Questioning the actions of others and trying to understand their motivation.
Questioning history and the lenses through which it is taught.
Inquiring is present tense. It is not passive or inactive. However, the verb is intransitive. It doesn’t need a direct object.
I might inquire within. I might inquire about a job. But, in the end, the focus of my quest for knowledge is within myself.
I am my own fount of inspiration. Nothing can motivate me to learn if I don’t first want to learn.
And maybe that’s the mistake I keep on making with education….that many teachers make with teaching. We want to teach and we want to teach our students. We love the material and we love the people to whom we are giving the material.
But the students still have to want to learn. And until they can bridge that gap, the students really still can’t learn. Education won’t necessarily happen.
To inquire…to think beyond myself. To see that I am merely a tiny particle in this world and that I must find my place within it, to see how I might be a member to the global community and stand with the people who surround me and see that the differences we share can help make us even more similar.
When one inquires, one thinks. When a person thinks, the ability to strike away the angers and animosities created by ignorance and prejudice is enabled.
When one inquires, one dedicates him or herself to the process of learning, to the process of being more than just an apathetic bystander to the world and to life.
To inquire…to live.