Coleman Barks, a poet in his own right, is the primary translator of Rumi’s 11th century Persian wisdom. In an interview with Bill Moyers, Barks said that he thought about this poem in relation to teaching, “it doesn’t really matter what the teacher talks about…what we remember were a few presences…what we were really learning about was coming through the teacher.” Students either connect with content or a teacher, and usually both. It’s usually a teacher that brings to life an area of learning and it’s those special moments with special people that are implanted in our memory.
We take long trips
We puzzle over the meaning of a painting or a book,
When what we’re wanting to see and understand
in this world, we are that.
I thought of this Rumi poem while visiting a Performance Learning Center, an alternative school sponsored by Communities in Schools of GA. PLCs are a good example of blended learning–a combo of online learning and onsite support. While the kids liked the self-paced learning, it was clear that the power of PLCs starts with life changing relationships.