Sunday, April 20, 2014

Not Zen 107: Full Teacup

A teaching candidate won a position at a large university.  She was a wiry woman, energetic and animated as she spoke.  Her lectures sparked ideas, laughter, and gasps of understanding from her students.  After her first semester, her classes over-subscribed.  Her department chair noticed.  Although he was nearing retirement, he took an interest in new ideas in his field.  He decided to attend one of her classes.

He arrived early enough to get the first seat.  Soon, he found himself surrounded by students.  He raised his eyebrows when late arrivals brought chairs and placed them in the aisles.  Other students stood in the open doors.  He watched the teacher arrive.  She launched into her material.  Hands flew up.  She answered questions.  The department chair learned that her ideas did not agree with his but her arguments were well-formed and backed by research.  His face remained impassive.  He considered her take on matters that he'd once thought were settled.

Although he felt well-hidden in the crowd, by the end of the class the young teacher recognized her colleague.  She invited him to stay after the lecture to share a pot of tea.

They talked for a while in the young woman's office.  The old fellow did not seem much interested in his tea.  He let it rest on the table by his side.

"I found your talk quite instructive," he mused.  He rubbed his beard.  "You have innovative methods."

"Oh," the teacher blushed.  "I have nothing to teach one such as you, sir."

"Huh."  The old seemed to notice his tea at last.  He grabbed the cup.  "My drink has gone cold."

With a shaky hand, he held out the teacup to his younger colleague.  Obediently, his host picked up the teapot.  She started to pour.  With a yelp, she halted. 

"Professor, your cup is already full," the young teacher complained.

"I know.  You'll have to pour harder."

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