The Best Classroom
Let's be honest, sometimes the best classroom is not the classroom. You're not going to learn about the Spring bloom in the Yosemite valley by looking at pictures on a computer. A textbook will help you identify, categorize, classify, and even compare and contrast flowers in the Yosemite valley vs. flowers in Death Valley. But the best way to know, to really KNOW flowers is by seeing them in bloom time.
Am I advocating ditching class. Maybe. If the weekends are unavailable for travel and exploration, then the answer become less equivocating. Maybe becomes yes! The truth is I have always been a proponent of mental, physical, and spiritual health and growth; and two of those are best learned through actual experience, getting your hands dirtied by experience, so to speak.
A perfect example is this: I learned about poetic forms in a classroom. I even came to appreciate concrete poems by studying them. George Herbert and my survey of early British Literature comes to mind. "Angel Wings" is a concrete poem. All this knowledge came from a book and a classroom. I cannot say with any certainty what inspired Herbert to write about an Angel's wings, perhaps he had a vision or saw a cloud one day and got inspired. I do, however, know what inspired me to write about a particular tree. I adore the Sierra Mountains and on one particular excursion in the backcountry of King's Canyon where I sought out and found a tree that inspired me. That inspiration took the shape of a concrete poem. That inspiration could not have taken place in a classroom; indeed, it could not have taken place even in the city.
The classroom, the city, civilization needed to be left behind. And it was. The result was this image and poem that represented the work it took to get to the image and the feelings that resulted from that work. Thus, sometimes the best classroom is not the classroom at all.
“Transition to a Tree”
I heard a
tale of a tree,
that is hard to get to,
you see? Up around ten
thousand feet. Days and miles
The body will have difficulty breathing
The eyes will have difficulty, seeing
The heart will have difficulty, leaving
I heard a tale of a tree that offers vaccine
For this: hallucinating nation of a money-blackened civilization; a silly and stupid sophistication and modernization.