Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Teaching Journal 08-09
Day 8

Hearing about the recent collapse of some of the financial giants on Wall Street started me thinking about how important it is for my scholars and me to keep a sense of perspective – a clear understanding that great success on one day can sometimes be followed by great failure on the next. I guess it involves something I’ve often pondered – the importance of maintaining “the big picture”. In the small, very limited picture, Lehman Brothers was a huge star, but in the big (actually immense, even infinite) picture of life, the bank was just another dust speck in the universal “winds” that circle endlessly around us. They thought they were invincible, but now we all see they were as ephemeral as anything in this universe – as fleeting as stars that come and go in the sky, or as insects that live a few days and die. Somehow, in some simple way, I need to remind my scholars of this truth – that greatness is always balanced by smallness, that success wouldn’t be special without a little failure now and then to help us appreciate it. A’s are wonderful, but the C’s will be there now and then, like cloudy days after a string of clear ones.
I noticed one girl in the 8th grade came into the room and immediately sat down and started dutifully reading her casual book. She was being obedient to my class rules, but she was also, I think, being obedient to her own desires. She obviously wished to be a fine English scholar, so she unquestioningly did what she knew serious scholars do in Mr. Salsich’s classes.
The girl who was serving in one of the 8th grade classes was selfless in her duties. She served water and crackers with the self-sacrificing manner of the best restaurant servers. I thought she looked even noble as she quietly moved around the room with her tray.
Someone spilled some water in one of the classes, and several scholars instantly jumped up to assist in the cleanup. They were eager to lend a hand. Perhaps coming to the aid of their classmates this morning might be one of the highlights of their day.
One of the 9th grade scholars seemed quite distracted while I was talking about a Shakespeare assignment. She seemed unfocused and preoccupied as I explained what I thought would be an exciting project for her. It’s interesting …. here was a very bright scholar who seemed miles away from what we were doing. What was happening inside her that took her thoughts so far from these passionate lines of Shakespeare?
In one of the 9th grade classes, I noticed several scholars busily writing in their “class notes” folder while I was talking. I complimented them for their industrious approach to their work. They have obviously started the school year with lofty goals.

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