Wednesday, August 06, 2008


T is for Threshing

In English class, my scholars and I should be “threshers” of the first order. On a farm, threshing involves the process of separating grains or seeds from mere straw, and we should be partaking in a similar process in my classes. In the course of education, there is a ton of useless “straw” that can masquerade as important information, and the kids in my classes need to be able to identify it and cast it away. Like farm workers at harvest time, they must be able to differentiate between the important and the petty, the useful and the worthless. Curiously enough, the scholars and I may need to do some “beating” (or even “thrashing”) if we want to be successful in this process. If we hope to find the valuable food for thought that’s hidden inside a short story, we can’t just sit back and wait for the “grains” to fall away from the “chaff”. Like harvesters, we may have to hit, beat, flail, rub, turn, twist, bore, drill, and/or pierce – whatever it takes to separate the significant from the trivial. In other words, we may have to work very hard before the truths of the story are revealed. I can imagine what would happen if farmers simply passed the time in the hope that edible grains and seeds would magically form themselves into piles. The farm would soon fail, and the same would happen to my scholars if they didn’t flail and thrash around in the literature we read. Truth is, both farming and reading literature require far more work than waiting.

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