Thursday, July 03, 2008


R is for Roses

During a walk in the park today, I passed a rosebush that made me think of my students and me. A good portion of the bush looked droopy and aged: some blossoms had faded and fallen off, and a few leaves and stems seemed to be slowly vanishing. The grass beneath the bush was littered with old blooms, making the site look cluttered. At a passing glance, one might have though the bush a sorry sight. No doubt a quick glance into my classroom during a 9th grade English class might produce a similar reaction. An observer might think a good percentage of the students seem disheveled and disinterested. Eyes might be rolling, heads might be sagging, and some eyelids might very well be beginning to close. A passing onlooker might well conclude that, like the rose bush in the park, my class, including me, was slowly passing into a state of utter decrepitude . The onlooker might sigh and wish someone would take better care of this class -- this “rosebush” -- in Room 2. However, what a quick observation wouldn’t reveal about this morning’s rose bush, and about my classes, is the steady growth that’s happening right in the midst of the apparent waning and weakening. When I stopped and examined the bush in the park carefully, I saw countless small buds just ready to blossom, and others that were already unfolding beautifully. In fact, there actually seemed to be much more growth happening than decay. Despite the scruffy appearance, the bush was obviously preparing many further displays of elegance. This, too, is probably true of my classroom, and all classrooms. Yes, a glance will reveal the weariness and ennui that overcomes all teenagers during the long school days, but a more careful look will also bring to light those students – perhaps many – whose minds are on the edge of revelations and epiphanies. These are often the peaceable thinkers, the students who, like the young buds on the rose bush, stay modestly in the background, quietly growing and unfolding. In the midst of droopiness and fatigue, they are preparing to unassumingly unfold some new understanding, some new blossom of knowledge. I can only hope that anyone passing my classroom will stop a moment and take a close look, just as I did with the rose bush. Amid the apparent drowsiness, there just might be some astonishing education discreetly occurring.

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