Burn the Laurels

Each day in March, I’m participating in the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. You can visit their site here. This is my slice for Day 20.

I was agape in her room 

as she led the symphony.

Students strumming their voices

exchanging ideas

exploring tyranny


and treason.

It was a disjointed orchestra



as they honed their instruments

and enjoyed the camaraderie.


Displayed on her windowsill

rested laurels of all sorts




and awards;

the credentials of a maestro

who led this happy throng.


The laurels rested

while she was ablaze

passionately leading 

her proteges

into discovery

and intrigue.


This was a classroom of dreams

where genuine learning

is both quest

and treasure

and everyone wins,

their brilliance discovered

and integrated,

and illuminated,

and investigated,

along the journey.


The laurels rested,

a testament to her calling,

to her tireless venture

of investing 

life lessons

language skills

and love

into her charges.


The laurels rested

while she burned,

infusing her passion

for literature

and dialogue

and reason

and reflection

into the songs

they rehearsed






They would soon move on

to other classrooms

with laurels

and resting

and teachers,

but there would be no music

no symphony

no maestro

no quest

or treasure

or burning.


Just faded memories

of what learning

used to be

or could be

with a passionate


And the gnawing


that laurels

were never intended

as a place for resting

or as an epitaph

for learning completed

or passion deceased.



are fine for hanging,

giving merit

to the treasure

and pleasure

of learning,

but not hanging by,

because learning

is an endeavor

of striving

not arriving,

of journey

more than destination.



give testimony

to the empowerment

of teaching.


give testimony

to diplomats

of discourse

and discovery

and development.



give testimony

making ambassadors

beyond where

or who

provided our education, 

but ambassadors

for the empowerment

that learning provides

for each of us.



give testimony

that learning

is by nature

a relentless pursuit

constantly advancing

with pit stops

along the way

to savor

and reflect

and build

and connect

but never a final

resting place

to bury 


or douse


or extinguish



When laurels become 

a resting place

cool and comfortable,

silencing passion,

pacifying intrigue,

a torch is needed.


When laurels become

a finish line

of learning achieved

and titles earned,

a torch is needed.


When laurels become

a monument

of entitlement

rather than

a movement

of investment,

a torch is needed


When laurels become

a pulpit

for preaching

instead of

a depository

of questioning,

a torch is needed.


When laurels become

a squelcher 

of colleagues

instead of

an invitation

for collaboration,

a torch is needed

to burn those laurels.


5 thoughts on “Burn the Laurels

  1. This is such an amazing, passionate poem. There are so many things I love about it: the symphony metaphor, the intensity, the contrast between the way it should be and the way it all too often is. I was so caught up in the passion and excitement that this teacher created, that the 7th stanza came as such a blow of disappointment. I felt so sad for those kids. Powerful writing, Greg.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! I was sitting on the edge of my seat reading this. I feel the need to share it as a vision of what great teaching is…and what it shouldn’t be. Powerful stuff here!

    Liked by 1 person

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