Sunday, December 21, 2008

"...the city is built
To music, therefore never built at all,
And therefore built forever."
-- Alfred Lord Tennyson, "The Idylls of the King"

In a strange way, my teaching is 'built to music'. I don't mean that I listen to music when I'm planning my lessons, nor do I often play music during class, but still, when I read these lines in Tennyson this morning, they seemed to speak about my English classes. I guess there's a kind of 'music' in my thoughts and feelings that I try to follow when I'm teaching. The universe is constantly producing a mysterious kind of harmony that we’re all part of, and, when I sit at my desk and type out a lesson on the computer, I guess I simply listen to that harmony and let it tap the keys and write the lesson. The same happens in class. The students and I always have innumerable thoughts in our minds, all of which, whether we realize it or not, are blended together like melodies, and it’s these thought-melodies that make an English class what it is. Today the music of our ideas makes one song, tomorrow another song, and the next day yet another. Do we – my students and I – create these songs? No, I rather think the thoughts create the songs; all we do is follow along and sing the melody that’s given us. In a way, then, since thoughts and melodies are made of little more than the infinite air, you might say my teaching, like Camelot, ‘is never built at all/ And therefore built forever.’

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