It is often said that a child’s first teacher is his parents. No truer words have been spoken for one of KnowledgeWorks senior technical assistance coaches, Dr. Dan Hoffman and his wife Peggie. Dan and Peggie lost their oldest son Todd recently. In honoring Todd’s memory, Peggie selects quotes from Todd’s readings and markings and sends them to their family circle several times a week. As Dan was reading the latest correspondence, he recognized that both he and his son shared a fondness for Emerson.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, along with Henry David Thoreau, are two of my favorite American philosophers. They were contemporaries and when they would occasionally meet, the elder Emerson would lead with this question to Henry David: “So what has become clearer since once we last met?” This allowed the youngest to share learnings and the elder to ask deeper questions.
I share these details because I used the question to open up seminars with my principals-in-training at The Ohio State University, and with my principals in many of the schools in which I have provided support. We often went an hour or more on the question. The beauty was we were talking about what they were learning which often led to what they yet needed to learn. I am reminded of my son Todd, he may be meeting with these two great thinkers as I write!