“. . . let the wise listen and add to their learning . . .” – Proverbs 1:5
There’s on old nursery rhyme that goes like this: “A wise old owl lived in an oak / The more he saw the less he spoke / The less he spoke, the more he heard / Why can’t we all be like that bird?”
My fourth grade teacher was a short, stocky, gray-haired woman who we respectfully addressed as Mrs. Roop. I have no idea about her first name, not that we would have dared call her by it anyway. And like most gray-haired teachers to a bunch of fourth graders she seemed much older than she probably was. Most distinctively, though, she was quite short, no taller than most of her students – four-feet-eight-inches perhaps. Yet, she could have easily stood eight-feet-four-inches in our eyes, for she had total command of the classroom. One snap of her fingers and everyone came to attention.
Her classroom was arranged in a conventional fashion with a large wooden desk at the front of the room which faced the several rows of neatly aligned student desks where we were required to sit attentively throughout the day. Interestingly, though, unlike most teachers Mrs. Roop seldom sat at her large wooden desk in the front. Instead, she sat among her pupils in the back of the classroom in one of the small student desks. And except when lecturing, reading, instructing or explaining – about which she was very concise – that is where she spent a good part of her day. From there she would summon her students to the chalkboards requiring us to demonstrate our comprehension of the subject being covered while she sat in the back of the room quietly observing, only occasionally speaking up to explain or correct something. In the end fourth grade proved to be one of the most critical years in my formal education, one that provided a foundation that carried me through the remainder of my academic career.
“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something,” someone once said. The wise Mrs. Roop spoke only when she had something to say, otherwise she listened and observed. Through her listening she learned what she needed to teach, and through her wisdom we learned what we needed to learn. “Let the wise listen and add to their learning.” “Why can’t we all be like that bird?”