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make your day dance

The up side of “Oh, what a day…,” or the benefit of having doubts

December 15th, 2008 · No Comments · Tags: ···

I was struck by something John Patrick Shanley, the director of the movie Doubt, said in an NPR interview during my morning commute on Friday.  Asked about the relative merits of doubt and certainty, he replied that certainty is a closed door, while doubt is an open one.

I like the thought, since at the end of many days, I doubt myself.  It’s not a particularly comfortable feeling, so I like to think there’s an up side to the discomfort… to admitting that one class hit a bump, another never got off the ground, that I was less than stellar. It’s comforting to think that, by diving into the discomfort, I open up the possibility for change. I question management, instruction, sequencing… anything that could be making classes chop instead of flow. And then I try new timing, a different transition, a clearer demonstration. Doubt opens the door to improvement.

Of course, I love the days when I’m not pushed to examine things too closely. Everything went smoothly; we were all engaged. End of story. But I learn more from days when doubt opens the door to reflection.

On the other hand, certainty has its place. Personally, I’m certain that dance never hurt anyone. Certain that there are multiple ways it benefits. Certain that dance belongs in education, every student deserves a dose, and society would be better for it.  These are certitudes that keep me going, venturing through the doors my daily doubts open.

So I might amend the thought:  Doubt opens the door, but it’s certainty that pushes me forward.

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