"Two Russians", oil on board, by Edward B. Gordon
Today I noticed, for the first time in a long while, how easily my young scholars can become distracted. As I taught a lesson to one of the 8th grade classes, I walked around the room, paying particular attention to their level of alertness, and I was dismayed by what I saw. I was disappointed to see the kids gazing out the window, up at the ceiling, at their friends, out the door, but only occasionally at me. Their postures were good (because I insist on it), so they might have appeared to be listening carefully, but their eyes told a different tale. As I moved around the room presenting what I thought would be an engaging lesson, I was saddened to see that the scholars, in general, were far more interested in what the birds were doing in the trees outside than in what I was saying. It was a bit of a shock, I guess, but a good shock nonetheless. It opened my eyes to what it’s really like to be a kid in English class – a kid who has already, perhaps, sat through four earlier classes where the teacher thought he was presenting an appealing lesson. It was a surprise to me to see how indifferent and unresponsive many of the kids seemed, and it was a lesson for the future. It showed me that I need to get out from behind my desk more often and experience my class the way my scholars do. I need to see what it's like to listen to tedious words while watching, through the window, small birds in a blossoming tree.