Sunday, November 23, 2008

Teaching Journal
Day 52, Friday, November 21

Today one of the ‘assistant teachers’ did a wonderful job of maintaining an authoritative demeanor. He normally speaks in class with a soft and almost muffled voice, but this week – and especially today – his words were delivered with unusual poise and pride. As he led the students through some of the simpler steps in the class schedule, he seemed more like a confident leader than the taciturn and hesitant student I’ve known in the past.
One of the 9th grade girls surprised me by asking if we could keep the class blogs, especially the Forum, going even after they graduate in June. There was a general signal of agreement on this from the rest of the class, and so I assured them that, if they wished, the blogs from this year’s English class could remain on the Internet for the rest of their lives. There was, I recall, a moment of surprised silence after I said this. Perhaps the kids were feeling, as I often do, pure astonishment at the kind of new educational world that we live in – a world where a record of the work of an entire year in 9th grade English can stay out on the worldwide web for years and years to come.
Today the students wrote some surprisingly profound pieces while listening to a song called “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by The Blue Oyster Cult. It’s a song about the acceptance of death, and somehow these 13- and 14-year-olds were able to sense the inner meanings of the lyrics. They may be youthful in appearance, but there’s a strangely experienced wisdom streaming inside them.

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