Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Art of Fly Teaching

I love metaphors. Some of my favorite metaphors for teaching evoke images of growing, planting and playing but at a recent retirement party for a dear colleague about to leave a 32 year career in education, I added another to my 'favorite' list; teaching is like fly fishing. Thanks to Jamie who shared his text with this blog. See for yourself how this metaphor fits your experience of our noble profession.
The Art of Fly Teaching

The master fly fisherman carefully prepares alone at home. So does the teacher.  In an endless pursuit for excellence, the masterful fly fisherman devotes years to perfecting the art.  He carefully researches and goes to his repertoire of tools to design and tie the perfect hook to reel in the fish – the student.  He practices his casts on the lawn and anxiously waits for the season to open when he can once again go stand alone in a new stream and gracefully cast a line in the wind towards a tranquil pond.  The day finally comes. He waits for the right moment; a light breeze, he gracefully waves the fly rod to extend the line, and casts the perfect arching line right where he wants it.   He allows the hook to float in a tranquil shady bay and tugs a little on the line - back and forth - and waits for the bite.  He gets a bite; snaps the hook, and reels in the cherished prize.  

The masterful fly fisherman always practices catch and release and is privately rewarded with the knowledge that he caught the fish.  Once in awhile, he will take a picture like a school yearbook - but always releases the fish to hopefully come back to be caught again by another fisherman.  He is after all, a learner for life.   

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by dennisbehm

My good friend, Tom, a masterful fly fisherman, always talks fishing.  Fly fishing is his passion.  He explained how he cuts the barbs off his hooks before tying them. This way, it is more difficult to keep a fish on the line, but it allows for an easier catch and release.  You see he cares about the fish and wants to ensure that his children and grandchildren will be able to practice his art.  I see how his passion was similar to the passion of the master teacher.  Put master teachers together and they talk passionately and incessantly about their art.  The masterful teacher teaches without barbs.
Some fishermen fish from boats.  Others trawl a line and hope that something may jump on the line.  Some simply drag a line along the river floor and hope to hook one in.  Some red-necks fish with dynamite!  The masterful fisherman - fly fishes. The master teacher practices his art –catches and releases - one student at a time.

What do I plan to do with my retirement” I plan to ask my retired buddy Tom to teach me how to fly fish.

I am sure that the readers of this blog will join me in wishing my colleague the very best in his retirement years.