Across Continents

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Lessons in empathy


Today’s Kiwese word: pedals. Handy for kayaking

I’d stared at the postcard for a while. Pondering. Knew what I wanted to say. But not quite sure how to preface it. Formal address or first name. Curious dilemma perhaps. For I was writing to my old Physics teacher. Part of me still wanting to refer to him as "Mr…". Not just because that had been the school norm. Out of plain, old-fashioned respect as well. For he’d been the best teacher I’d ever had.

He’d strike a clever balance between demanding commitment, and engendering empathy with his students. You felt he wasn’t so much teaching you, as studying alongside. Careful to explain how he’d approached problems. Always receptive to alternatives, as one would be from an equal.

Memories that had come flooding back almost a quarter of a century later. Still crisp and clear. Thanks to some new fangled technology. Skype. A surprise chance to chat online. For I was staying with his son, a school contemporary. Now out in New Zealand. Joining in on the weekly family catch-up.



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