Friday, August 25, 2006
ON TEACHING: Sharing
As the first day of school approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of sharing, and I found three definitions in the American Heritage dictionary that have been helpful. First, the dictionary gives this meaning – “to divide and parcel out in shares” – which suggests a spreading around of wealth, and there certainly will be wealth in my classroom this year. Each of us will bring a treasure trove of ideas to class each day (more than we can ever be aware of), and all the riches will be laid out for everyone to share. My classes will be like prosperous “idea companies” coming together each day to dole out the profits. Another meaning given for “share” is “to participate in, use, enjoy, or experience jointly or in turns”, as in “They all shared the chocolate cake together.” I don’t dare to presume that my classes will be as rich and pleasurable as chocolate cakes, but I do hope we will have the feeling that we are taking part in something fun and rewarding. Perhaps I’ll try to think of each class as a special cake I have baked for my students. A final definition from the dictionary states that “to share” means to “relate (a secret or experience, for example) to another or others”. I like this, because I do think of myself as someone filled with extraordinary secrets about the beauty of literature and good writing, secrets which I will spend this year sharing with my students. Someone passing my room might see us huddled together in discussion, as if passing secrets about a wonderful book around to each other. Hopefully whoever passes will stop in to join in the sharing.