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For the Love of Teaching
And Other Reasons Teachers Do What They Do
Interview Portraits by Ira D. Shull

From “Connection” (continued)

All I want for them is cognizance. I want them to look at life and live it and experience it and feel it and think it and know it. I want them to know what they think, know what they feel, and know what they know. I want those three things to be very clear—I think, I feel, I know—because when somebody asks you a question, you’ve got to know whether you’re saying what you think, what you feel, or what you know. People frequently say what they feel or think and make it appear it’s what they know. But they don’t know. And that’s why Socrates said, ‘I know that I do not know. And therefore I am smarter than those who think they know but do not know.’ And when I teach, I always keep that in mind.
At one point, I was unemployed for seven years. I went to Tennessee, and I stopped. I went into the woods and I looked, I read, I sat down. It took me two years to stop—two years before I had nothing to do, no reason to get up, no restlessness, no impulsiveness. I lament not having a wife, not having children, my own home, but I never lament those seven years when I actually stopped. For five of them, I lived. One man in the community said that I should be given a stipend for the rest of my life. He said, ‘We should let you come here and live,’ because every day I went out and talked to people, I went out and enjoyed life and shared it with others. I ran a lot, but I also played soccer and told stories to children. I took people on picnics and took them caving. Everybody knew me—everybody. I had dogs, and I’d take them for walks in the morning, and runs, and one morning I had twelve dogs with me. I also used to run with horses. I had a horse there, actually, that ran next to me without a rider. So I’d go with this horse, and a dog, and the three of us would run through the woods. Those were my happiest moments. Running was so primitive for me. I loved to be primitive, to be simple. I got joy from just putting one foot in front of the other.
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