Brad and the Raccoon

Brian picMy in-laws used to go camping two weeks in the summer at a spot on Kentucky Lake only accessible by boat but a five minute cruise from the marina. This was a big family event and meant living in tents, water sports, and camp fires. Sometimes at night, my brother-in-law, Brad, a creative teenager, would wait until the camp fire was going well and dark had settled in all around.

He would slip off away from the fire into the dark and sit quietly, waiting. This was a calculated wait and a game, for he took a small bite of food and held it gently between the tips of his thumb and first finger while shining a tad of light on the food with a small flashlight in his other hand.bestcoon

Soon there’d be a rustling, and a raccoon would appear 10-15 feet from Brad. The raccoon would cautiously, with stops and starts, make its way toward the pinch of food. Finally, it would be right there, and our delight was watching it pluck the bite with its mouth and take off. To get the best view meant being off in the dark ourselves and very still as the whole thing unfolded.

lightbookAn occasional student can be like a raccoon. The student finds it too fearful to approach in the light for a bite of academic nutrient. The teacher is positioned too openly in front of a group where the group appears to know what it is doing. Further, the teacher is too conspicuous and too much the point. Only when the bite of academic nutrient is isolated in view by means of a small light shining upon it, will the student slowly go for the bite. Then it is just the student and that desirable bite.

The student may only later know the skill of the teacher and the plan employed. That is not the point for the teacher. The teacher is fascinated with the raccoon’s eating habits and wants the raccoon to retain the best of its habitat while interacting with a new one.

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