So much of what we call creativity is actually the continuing creation of Venn Diagrams…the comparison of two concepts, things or activities that are apparently dissimilar. Flyfishing and teaching at first glance would appear to have little in common, but with a little mental effort, the boundaries become blurred and the similarities reveal themselves.
Each new stream I flyfish presents its own challenges and beauty, while every class is unique in its student composition, each class a mini-culture that presents numerous tests of my teaching skills and which simultaneously offers wondrous possibilities for me to see the world anew through my students' eyes. Flyfishing and teaching are supported by a network of colleagues who mitigate my failures and share in the joys of my successes.
A stream or river might be hundreds of miles long, but the pool I choose to flyfish is its own microcosm, its channels and eddies mysteries for me to uncover. A classroom, though part of a much larger institution, possesses its own micro-environment, a sacred space where, hopefully, truths are unveiled to students for the first time.
There is the saying, "You can never step into the same stream twice." No two days in teaching are ever the same. The nature of discovery is surprise. Often a trout's sudden splashy rise to a fly will shock a flyfisherperson in the same way that a student's insight or inappropriate action will make a teacher's heartbeat skip. In some classes, each moment for the instructor is a tiptoeing through a minefield.
Ten Streams Ten Students presents ten situations which many teachers will recognize and which many non-educators might find surprising. As much as we would like to imagine it to be so, American high schools are not predicated on the classroom presented in Little House on the Prairie. School for many students is a gauntlet of intellectual and emotional challenges.
The author has spent a great deal of time on a forested stream so focused on fooling his quarry that the rest of the world dissolves into unawareness, and yet, even in those moments of zen, he is haunted by his students, their successes and his failures. Ten Streams, Ten Students is a description of those hauntings.