This morning I re-read, with great pleasure, Robert Louis Stevenson’s “An Apology for Idlers”, and it gave me an idea for my teaching. Perhaps, sometime in the darkness of mid-winter, I should have “A Week for Idlers” in my English classes. In the previous week, the students could read, study, and write about Stevenson’s essay – in which he decries ‘busyness’ and extols the ability to relax and be content with what’s right in front of you – and then the students could spend the next week in class relaxing and being content with what’s right in front of them. By that I mean, they could read whatever they want, write whatever they want, and think whatever they want. There would have to be some restrictions, of course: I would insist that their posture and behavior, as usual, be dignified during class, and that they not simply do nothing. They would have to do and accomplish English-type things during the week, but the choices would be strictly theirs, and, more importantly, the customary weight of pressure and ‘busyness’ would be completely gone. The students could completely relax for a full week. They could read, write, and think freely, just the way rivers run, breezes blow, and sunlight shines.
Hmmm ... ”A Week for Idlers” ... food for thought.