Friday, June 19, 2009

"Communication Gap", oil on masonite, by Sharman Owings


It often occurs to me that I need more “gaps” in my classes. That may sound somewhat negative, but according to one dictionary, a gap is simply “an unfilled space or interval”, and surely my young scholars would appreciate more of those during our sometimes drawn out English classes. Surely they would be grateful for an occasional brief opportunity to do absolutely nothing – to neither listen nor speak nor think, but just sit in stillness and peace. In the midst of the veritable cannonade of words and ideas that is a part of every class, they would welcome a chance to sit back and take a breath. It’s odd that I don’t realize this more thoroughly, and put it into practice. How hard is it to understand that gaps – interludes when nothing happens – are vital to the proper functioning of young minds – and any minds, for that matter? Don’t we have a long gap every night in which to settle and refresh our lives through sleep? And, at the other end of the spectrum, isn’t there a brief gap in between each word we say, so that our words can be understandable to others? Without the gap of sleep, we would soon die, and without the gaps between words, our speech would sound like lunacy. Gaps are a vital part of reality, from the gaps between each breath to the gaps between the outermost stars. Why, then, do I so often insist on running a gap-less English class: dashing, shoving, and elbowing ahead in a nonstop manner, breathlessly pushing the scholars to the finish line? What about a chance to relax and think deeply about what’s been said? What about a deep breath now and then?

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