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Thinking shoes | International Teaching Magazine


A teacher’s journey in time and space.

Holly Warren has recently relocated from Italy to Switzerland and has been spending time walking. What she found made her think about her teaching journey.


When going for a walk shortly after I arrived in Switzerland,  I noticed a beautiful wicker basket on the ground with a message attached to the nearby hedge; “Gratis. To Go/Take away”. Curiosity took over and I opened the box and found another beautiful box and inside this box was a new pair of children’s shoes. Never worn or not yet. Imagination immediately struck and I found myself walking along the paths that had brought me to where I was, pursuing the meaning of teaching and education with the desire to leave a footprint of my travels. Although my feet didn’t fit in the gorgeous shoes I slipped them on in my mind  and went miles.

A few hours later I went back and the shoes had started their journey. I later found out that it is a tradition to leave items in this way for people to have and use.

But where had my imagination taken me?

Along my teaching path.

What is in teaching? Why become a teacher ? For how long ? Where and what to teach and when is today? Have they moved it? Oops – tomorrow has gone and I didn’t notice!

I understood that teaching was a lifelong experience of great dimension when a 5 year old child answered a question with an interesting comment, “I just wanted to know if you knew the answer!”

I am still looking for that answer.

What is teaching? Is it sharing, informing, delivering, proposing, imposing, disposing, mentoring, lecturing, coaching, training, supporting, educating, demonstrating, showing, informing, drilling, disciplining, narrating?

How can this action be best described and by who? Perspectives change as angles reveal where we stand and for how long.

Could teaching be learning back to front? Surely we need to know something, and this something might come as a Package Leaflet as in medication. What it is for, when to take, its benefits and tricky sides.

Could teaching be prescribed or do teachers now need a prescription? A few lines beforehand?

Why become a teacher? What a personal question. We all have a reason, some reason, an excuse, a calling, or maybe we still don’t know. Have we followed the red thread, Goldilocks’ breadcrumbs, or Ariadnne’s thread?

Could teaching be giving a sense of direction? Showing the points of the compass, reading, writing, calculating, and imagining? The guiding star should shine bright for both teacher and student…it leads us back home wherever that may be.

Ops… maybe this is what teaching could  be…following our star.

We all have innate characteristics that shape our life, today and design tomorrow. Here today, gone tomorrow or here tomorrow and gone today.

Collective consciousness and culture maybe, but just maybe, are the ingredients in the petri dish we live in. We create splendid patterns. We create wonder and awe and other things too some, not so positively grand.

How long does our today and tomorrow last? Could it depend on how we measure time? Tick tock, chime, cuckoo, water clock, sundial, stopwatch, pendulum, metronome, swatch?

Here, is a place that is making me travel at the moment. Sometimes it stands so still I watch it with bewilderment. It is like a pair of new shoes I found in a box with the label “To Go.”

Gone tomorrow. I will be gone tomorrow whenever this will come and I wish to leave a message, an invitation, a proposal just like the one I found.

Go, go where, your shoes will take you. Literature is full of wonderful stories about shoes and their power to move, change and create.

Maybe teaching is designing a pair of shoes that will help us walk miles, show off our best attire, make us stand tall, sprint us forward, protect us, and comfort us.

Here today, gone tomorrow. Footprints.


Imagineer, Artist, Teacher, Free Spirit, Optimist.




FEATURE IMAGE: Shoes to go by Holly

Support Images:  Stars Unsplash+ In collaboration with Nathan Anderson, Time by Olena Koliesnik from iStock & Shoes by Benjamin Wedemeyer on Unsplash

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