Tuesday, August 29, 2006

ON TEACHING: Daily Celebrations

Since I read in my favorite dictionary that one meaning of celebrate is "to observe (a day or event) with ceremonies of respect, festivity, or rejoicing", I’ve been wondering if we could do some of this kind of celebrating in my classroom this year. Surely we all want to respect each other from the start of each class to the end, and perhaps it could be a sort of celebratory thing. Since we celebrate certain holidays out of respect for a person or an event, why couldn't my students and I celebrate a kind of holiday each day in English class, out of respect for each other. We don't need to have a parade or barbecues to do this; all we need to do is treat each class like a respectful celebration in honor of some dedicated students and a hard-working teacher. We could even think of English class as a series of festivities. After all, the word festive derives from the Latin word for a feast, and I certainly like to think of my classes as being feasts for the mind. Each day I spread out books and lessons like carefully prepared dishes for my students, hoping they will find them "tasty" and satisfying. When they enter my room, they are entering my "home" for a special banquet of ideas -- a banquet which I always hope will be thoroughly unforgettable for my students. Lastly, the dictionary uses the word rejoicing, and perhaps it's not too much to hope that my students will occasionally feel like rejoicing during my classes. English class, after all, should be about changing lives through fine reading and writing, and wouldn't we want to rejoice if we felt our life changing for the better? We might not clap and slap each other on the backs during my classes, but maybe we can regularly do some silent, inward rejoicing because of what we're learning. It's the kind of celebrating any teacher would love to see in his classroom.

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