Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Like most of us, I have always enjoyed being comfortable, and, as a teacher of teenagers, good comfort for one and all has been an abiding goal of mine. For instance, I like to think my classroom provides comfort in the form of physical ease and relaxation for the students. Although the chairs are fairly hard and there’s a limited amount of space, a few cheerful lamps provide, I hope, a sense of coziness and well-being, and perhaps the recurrent smiles of the old teacher serve to boost the students spirits now and again. I almost feel a sense of luxury when I enter my classroom, and I hope the scholars can feel at least a touch of that, also. In addition, I hope my teaching itself is comfortable, in the sense of being as “large” as is needed or wanted. We define a comfortable income as one that is big enough to supply all our needs and wants, and I hope my students can experience my teaching in that way, as instruction that makes available all the tools and stimulation necessary for their continued growth as English scholars. A third and elemental way in which I want to provide comfort in my work as a teacher has to do with the etymology of the word. “Comfort” originally referred to bringing strength to a situation (from the Latin “fortis”, as in “fort” and “fortitude”), so when we are comfortable, it is because we feel strong and surrounded by strength. We feel comforted because we know that all is well, which is exactly how I want my students to feel. Whatever happens in English class, whatever their successes or failures may be, I want my students to know that all is well, that they are good and getting better, and that all the strength they need is waiting securely and comfortably inside them.

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