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In Pursuit of Better, Not Best

I realize that many of you already scowl when you hear anyone talk about 'best practices'. Instead of adding to that discussion, I'd like to share a short story with you about someone who influenced me to keep looking for better and to never assume that I've reached 'best.'

I can still picture Mr. Loewen leaning on the desk at the front of my grade 9 class and settling in for a speech. The tone of his voice and even his posture indicated that what he was going to say was important. I think I expected a lecture on the importance of the subject, paying attention in class, working hard at the assignments, or being respectful to the teacher. Or maybe he was going to give his 'outstanding student' joke - students who crossed the line would end up 'out standing in the hallway'. Instead, he confessed to us. He confessed that he didn't know it all. Of course I can't remember the exact words, but it went something like this:

"In this course I'm going to teach you what I know to the best of my ability. I'm going to tell you truths as I understand them today. But, someday you will encounter ideas and truths that might make more sense than what I have taught you in this course. You will discover that some of what I have taught you is wrong. When you encounter those ideas, embrace them. And even as you embrace those new truths, remember that you, also, might be wrong again."

Those words sat with me for a long time before I saw the wisdom in them and embraced them. They have served me well and taken me through some challenging times. Thanks Mr. Loewen.

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