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Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night – Dylan Thomas

I sat quietly this morning after another poor night’s sleep. Initially, my ‘monkey mind’ chattered and cast blame to roil the waters and it difficult to find calm. Slowly, my mind became quieter and ideas flowed more easily. First, I asked, “What is causing these uneasy feelings?” I turn to that question more often in times of discomfort and dis-ease and I am often surprised by the answers.

I posted last night about my growing belief a different culture and conversation is needed for educational transformation. We need ‘safe containers’ for conversation about real and lasting change to occur. The change will not duplicate another educational model or be ordered from on high. We serve community needs and needs of children. I am fortunate. I learned and taught in just such a setting alongside colleagues, parents, children, and community members and real change happened through wonderful conversation. The words learned and taught signify a feeling that I rarely felt what we did was work. Life is transient and this place no longer exists except as a cherished memory.

I read a posting through a group I follow on LinkedIn about saying good-bye. The author quoted Dr. Seuss and I know the social commentary this subversive children’s author provided. The message was when the end comes we need to celebrate the accomplishments that led to that ending.  Mark Anielski, an economist, suggested teachers should conduct satisfaction surveys as students graduate, even between grades. When something or someone changes, and this is life, we should celebrate it as a new chapter in life. I can choose the positive over the negative and make a difference in the world I choose as Gen Y Girl suggested. After all, I am not a tree.

Yesterday, a Grade 7 student brought the Dylan Thomas poem in the title to school and asked if I would share it with the class. I asked what it meant to this Grade 7 student, but got no clear answer. I wondered what metaphor of life it offered me? Dylan Thomas wrote it for his dying father, but that is not my case. I sat quietly and the lines “Do not go gentle into that good night” and “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” did offer a life metaphor. When something good changes, my response is critical. Is it one of blame or fault? Was I silenced, or did I choose silence? Did I excommunicate my self. A sad lament of death I see as a request to live my life fully. I lose what I allow to be taken. Is it possible to raise one’s voice in silent protest? I think so, but it is not a silence of retreat, despair, and oppression.

I sat and waited for my inner teacher to share my truth while honouring the truth of others. I leave you with the poem. Choose your metaphor. I choose one of celebration otherwise I live a death, instead of life, due to my choices.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

About ivonprefontaine

I have been an educator for almost 20 years. Prior to that, I worked in private industry for 15 years, then returned to university to earn my education degree. For the past 11 years, I have been a co-creator of learning in a unique, progressive, alternative educational school of choice. Currently, I am engaged in a doctoral program at Gonzaga University in Spokane. A main theme in my learning there has been the roles of systems thinking, complexity theory, and organizational theory, and how they apply to education generally and the learning environment I share with students, parents, and colleagues.

2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Daily Poetry Lesson Idea « Teacher as Transformer

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