Day 98, Thursday, February 19, 2009
I’ve been thinking about the word ‘pressure’ these days. The 8th grade has just completed two days of pressurized presentations, and, as I write this, they are loosening and lightening up in the library, trying, I suppose, to untie the knots this project has tied inside them. They’re relaxing around the library like freed pieces of string, happy to be unfastened. Oddly enough, as I was watching the children deliver their presentations I found myself thinking of espresso coffee. The only way you can brew a truly strong cup of espresso is by forcing steam under pressure through the coffee beans, and sometimes it seems that a good way to create a truly fine group of scholars is by purposely placing them under significant pressure. It’s hard to watch them suffer through the trials of writing nine-paragraph essays and delivering fifteen-minute formal speeches, but the end product – stronger, wiser, more durable students – would seem to justify the distress and anguish. Pressure makes diamonds, espresso, and – we trust – exceptional 8th grade scholars.