Friday, January 02, 2009

“I nodded, and he went on with the same sprightly patience – I can find no better expression – as before.”
-- Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

David’s good friend Traddles, who is described in this passage, might have made a fine middle school teacher, because no quality is more important in that calling than a strong streak of “sprightly patience”. As a teacher, patience is far and away the primary quality I try to foster in myself, for it is the openness and receptivity of a teacher’s patience that allows learning to flourish. A patient teacher is like a boundless sea: the students feel like there’s no limit to what they can learn and achieve. However, what would be helpful to Traddles in the classroom would be the sprightliness of his patience. A patient teacher could also be a lifeless and unresponsive one, but not Traddles. I picture him nimbly moving around the room, patiently encouraging and accepting the best the students have to offer, but always showing the liveliness of someone who loves what he’s doing. He would be a spry and supple teacher, one whose sparkling kind of patience was always heartening to his students. It’s something to shoot for, this Traddles type of teaching, this way of being both accommodating and full of verve.

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