Thursday, September 11, 2008

Day 4: Thursday, September 11, 2008

A metaphor for the day…
Walking across the campus this morning, I noticed the shifting patterns of light in the shadows and sunshine, and it reminded me my English classes, and of the scholars. As I was walking, everywhere I looked the light was a little different – some shadows here, a bright patch of sunlight there, maybe a small spot of especially bright light here and there – and a similar diversity exists (thank goodness) in my classes. There are moments of real insight and excitement, but these are often balanced, I'm sure, by moments of confusion and ennui. There’s inspiration in my classes, but there’s no doubt some dullness too . However, what made this morning so beautiful was precisely the variation between sunshine and shadows, and perhaps a comparable kind of inconsistency is what makes my classes so interesting -- at least for me.
I was taken aback today by the level of sophistication in the responses from the scholars to the reading assignments last night. Both the 8th and 9th graders read fairly challenging pages for homework, but when I asked some detailed questions about the reading, their answers were surprisingly weighty. I was amazed that they could recall so many tiny details from the reading, more than I could have recalled at their age -- more than I can recall even now, after all these decades of reading.
As we were waiting for the class picture today, one of the girls who seems to be alone quite often was combing her hair while a boy held her mirror. They seemed to be quietly talking and laughing together. It cheered me to see this moment of congeniality for this retiring, solitary girl.

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