Metamorphosis: It Starts with Trouble

It starts with trouble, with dissatisfaction, with maybe even just a feeling that things are not right.

Somewhere in the first 5 years of my teaching, I knew that I was teaching Latin just the same way that I had been taught Latin, and I loved it.  My students were not loving it so much.  In fact, after doing their time for two years, I couldn’t convince anyone to continue. It would have been easy to blame the students, call them lazy, blame their parents, blame society “these days”, but none of that felt right, and quite honestly, what I was doing in the classroom didn’t feel right either.  I won’t bore you with the details, but that dissatisfaction with how things were working (really, NOT working) launched me into a search for a better way that has become the last 20 years of my teaching career, and every day is still part of the transformation.

Yes.  Transformation.  I have changed.  I have changed how I teach.  I have changed how I see teenagers.  I have changed in my understanding of language and how human beings learn it.  The changes have changed the outcomes.  More students want to stay than those who want to leave.  The problem these days is how to get all the students who want to take Latin into a class.  A good problem!  But, that’s not the point.

None of us want to sign up for trouble or having to undo what we already know how to do, but I am coming to see that the grace-filled changes in our lives often come out of experiences of real dissatisfaction with the way things are, out of what otherwise might be called trouble.  The moment that we move past the fear and ask of this trouble what it has to show us, we have begun our journey into transformation.  One of my favorite theologians and mystics, Matthew Fox says it like this:

“The system is not working. That is how a paradigm shift begins: the established way of seeing the world no longer functions.” 

So, got trouble?  Have a second look.  It may be leading you into your best self.

Bob Patrick

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