Monday, July 16, 2007


Of all the ideas that seem important to me as far as teaching goes, “order” is right at the top of the list. In so many ways, the concept of order – the logical or comprehensible arrangement among separate elements of a group – plays a vital role in my classroom. This is true largely, I suppose, because order is good for my students and me. A sense of order can bring a sense of peace, which in turn can lead to productive thinking and action. Without order in the classroom, there would be only its opposite, disarray, and disarray leads to nothing but more of itself. So I try, first of all, to provide an orderly atmosphere in my classroom. I keep the room spotless and neat, which I believe can help promote spotless and neat thinking, reading, and writing by my students. When they enter my room each day, I want them to feel like they are coming into an area where each thing has its proper place, and where harmony seems to be the primary force. When they read our literature books, too, I want them to feel, and recognize, a similar type of orderliness. We read long, complex, and often enigmatic works of literature, and my goal for the students is that they learn to discern the unity and concord just beneath the surface of the sentences. Although, like their lives, these books may initially seem baffling to the students, my responsibility as their English teacher is to show them how to uncover the hidden harmony in the books (and perhaps, indirectly, in their lives). And of course, I have the same responsibility as far as their writing goes. The only way words can communicate in a powerful manner is if they are arranged in an orderly way. Imagination, creativity, fluency, and vision are all important qualities of good writing, but none are as important as order. Like my books are arranged in a tidy way on the classroom shelves, I expect my students’ essays to be always assembled in a shipshape manner. And perhaps, if they’re working in an orderly classroom and reading beautifully arranged books, it won’t be all that difficult to produce clear and coherent pieces of writing.

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