Day 156, June 2, 2009
Sometimes I find a real need for ‘open space’ in my teaching, and at those times I often think of the sky. Teaching can all too often become a closed, cramped, confined, and overcrowded enterprise. I sometimes feel like I barely have room to take a breath, surrounded as I seem to be by essays, tests, quizzes, lesson plans, and scholars who need unvarying attention. Sometimes the classroom just seems too small for my scholars and me and all our wide-ranging needs and wants. That’s when I picture the sky. If I can see in my mind the vastness of the sky, even for a moment, it reminds me of the vastness in which we teachers perform our duties. My scholars and I, in truth, are not confined or restricted in any way. We do our educational tasks in the universe of the mind, which has no boundaries whatsoever. As the poet John Milton put it in “Paradise Lost”, we are “intellectual being[s], [with] thoughts that wander through Eternity”. There are no limits or restraints in eternity, and neither are there in our work as students and teacher. The great sky above us goes out into space forever, and so do the thoughts we think in English class. There’s an infinite sky in my little classroom -– something I try to recall when the walls close in.