Rumi Keeps on Giving (by Marianne Novak Houston)

Rumi Keeps on Giving (by Marianne Novak Houston)

Rumi Keeps on Giving (March 4, 2007)
As a retired teacher, with over 40 years in the classroom, I have found the current focus on testing, measuring, and evaluating — frequently so inappropriately — a sad commentary upon our approach to education. When such thoughts assailed me in the classroom, I would turn to Rumi.

Any poem that was important to me I always shared with my then 8th grade students. One day Rumi's great poem "There are two kinds of intelligence" quoted at the bottom of this note, played a major role in my students' discussion of what counts as effective learning. In that discussion, Julie said, "Rumi talked about it: what's most effective for me is when there is room for my inner voice. In many classes, much of our time is just spent repeating what the book says, or what the teacher says. It's not very often we get to actually say what we think. I think I really learn when I can share my own thoughts and hear others."

To teachers and students alike, Rumi keeps on giving!

Two Intelligences
by Jellaludin Rumi

There are two kinds of intelligence:
one acquired,
as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts
from books and from what the teacher says,
collecting information from the traditional sciences
as well as from the new sciences.

With such intelligence you rise in the world.
You get ranked ahead or behind others
in regard to your competence in retaining information.
You stroll with this intelligence in and our of fields of knowledge,
getting always more marks on your preserving tablets.

There is another kind of tablet,
One already completed
and preserved inside you.
A spring overflowing its springbox.
A freshness in the center of the chest.
This other intelligence does not turn yellow or stagnate.
It's fluid, and it doesn't move
from outside to inside
through the conduits of plumbing-learning.

This second knowing is a fountainhead
from within you, moving out.

Marianne Novak Houston
Portage, MI (Listens to On Being OnDemand)

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is professor of Persian & Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis, and the author of several books, including Reading Mystical Lyric: The Case of Jalal aI-Din Rumi.