“Gratitude to Old Teachers”: Leaning Into Learning Legacies





Amongst a group of poet-scholar friends, all of us students of the American poet Robert Bly, often speak of our “gratitude to old teachers,” the title from one of Bly’s (1999) poems. We cherish a meditative awareness of deeply rooted presences holding us up, buoying us as we stride across “Water that once could take no human weight” that now “holds up our feet / And goes on ahead of us ….” What is this mystery? Through the love and support of “old teachers,” we are held, led, and supported, into an unknown future that, without their guidance, we might never have reached. Many of Bly’s students (myself included) refer to how meeting him “changed” or even “saved” their lives. Similarly, I could say this of meeting and studying with Canadian curriculum scholar and poet Carl Leggo. Practicing gratitude to old teachers fosters vital pedagogic engagement and personal connection in a world often fraught with isolation and despair. Reflecting on how these poetic influences have inspired and guided my own personal and professional life, this essay ruminates on grateful legacies within literary and curriculum studies, and beyond.

Keywords: gratitude, curriculum studies, mentorship, poetry, poetic inquiry