Saturday, December 20, 2008

In the Wheat Fields at Gennevilliers
Berthe Morisot (1841-1895 French) 


My work as a middle school English teacher might be compared to that of a farmer sowing seeds, with this difference: I often don’t get the pleasure of reaping the harvest. Each day I plan detailed lessons and say thousands of words to the students, every one of which, I like to think, is a seed dropped into the their lives. Some – maybe most – of the seeds never sprout (probably because they are thoroughly sterile); a small number germinate quickly and come to fruition that very day or soon after; but most of the seeds probably don’t develop and grow until months and even years have passed. A lesson on a poem about courage may lie dormant inside a student for long years, only to slowly sprout and bloom in a situation where she or he can make use of it. My former student may not even be aware of the supportive growth that's happening inside him or her – this idea that was first planted in an English lesson way back in 8th grade – but it may be there nonetheless, pushing up to offer the young man or woman some helpful wisdom. It’s a humbling enterprise, this sowing of seeds in English class. Who knows when - if ever - the seeds of my lessons will germinate? All I can do is quietly cast forth the thoughts and themes I hope will be valuable, and then stand aside. I may be far away and long gone when the blossoming - if there is any - happens. 

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