LITTLE TOES, ORCHESTRAS, AND QUIET STUDENTS
(written in October, 2005)
I remembered this morning, as I occasionally do, that my students and I are each a part of something larger – something that needs each of us to play our particular role each day. I guess I have usually thought of a “class” as being a collection of separate individuals, myself included, all trying on their own to reach some academic goal. I assumed that I come to class with my own particular goals, just as each of my students does, and we go our own way trying to reach those goals. Another way of putting it is that education, to me, has usually been an individual affair. However, I may have been entirely wrong in this assumption. Perhaps I should think of my classes as being similar to the human body, where each part, no matter how small, is vitally important to the overall functioning of the whole. My little toe is not especially handsome, and it stays hidden most of the time, but it is still an essential part of my body. Similarly, each of my students, even the quiet ones, even the ones who don’t “perform” as well academically, are crucial to the proper working of the class. Or, I could compare the class to an orchestra. If every orchestra member played a loud, commanding violin, there would be no beautiful music. In a similar way, if every student in my class was voluble, energetic, and brilliant, there would be none of the varied and lovely music of humanity in my classroom. I need the quiet students as well as the talkative ones, the ones who struggle as well as those who skim smoothly along. All of us together, each doing our own small but vital part, make up my English class. If even one of us was missing, the strength of the class would decrease significantly. I need to remember this today.