Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Monday", oil on board, by Rob Ijbema

Teaching Journal

Day 127, April 21, 2009


     It occurred to me today that sitting in a chair might be a better way for me to teach, at least generally, than standing. That realization came at a moment when I was standing at the round table and looking down at the scholars. It suddenly seemed silly to me that I was towering above them. It made no sense, the way a person standing on a stepladder in a crowd makes no sense. I felt completely out of place, and – more importantly – out of touch with the scholars. As soon as I could, I grabbed a chair and sat down among the kids, and I instantly felt less like an alien and more like a comfortable fellow learner. Sitting with them, I was more of a companion in the study of literature than a distant and mystifying lecturer. Of course, I am not a 14-year-old student, nor am I a "friend" of the students. I am their teacher, and there needs to be a professional distance between scholars and their teacher. However, today I came to understand that this professional distance doesn’t need to involve looming above the class like a strange giant. I can be a leader and guide for my scholars just as well – probably better – by sitting among them than by standing detached and distant.     

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