Thursday, July 10, 2008


“Silent Partner”

One of my goals as a teacher is to gradually become less of a “manager” and more of a “silent partner”. In one dictionary of idioms, a silent partner is defined as someone who is closely involved with a company, and often provides money for it, but is not a manager of it -- and this, to me, seems like a fitting and appealing role for a high school English teacher. Of course, I don’t supply any money for my students (mainly because I have almost none), but I do offer “bankrolling” in the form of recurring infusions of lessons and assignments, and I’d like this to become my primary function as the years pass. I want to step more to the side, more behind the scenes, in order that the “companies” – the four classes I teach – might function more on their own with less meddlesome micro-management from me. The word “silent” in silent partner is especially important, I think. One of the most debilitating handicaps among teachers is the inability to simply shut up. Most of us probably talk way too much in the classroom, making the kind of incessant verbal clatter that renders our scholars incapable of hearing themselves think. The idea of becoming a more silent teacher, a wiser and more attentive partner off to the side, is appealing in this regard – and would no doubt be warmly appreciated by my scholars. My age, of course, makes the concept of a silent partner even more appealing. I am 66, and have been teaching English since 1965 – before most of my scholars’ parents were born – and so the image of me as a hoary, stooped, raspy-voiced, and generous “silent partner” is particularly attractive. The scholars would be the managers and shareholders of the “companies” – my English classes – while I would be the kindly, well-to-do old fellow who pours in resources whenever needed. I picture the 8th and 9th graders occasionally saying, “The class is not doing so well. We better ask Mr. Salsich for some help” -- whereupon I would, with a well-seasoned smile, graciously dispense suggestions, assignments, lessons, grades, and other forms of pedagogical hard cash.

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