Friday, September 18, 2009


I doubt whether too many teachers think of their classes as being graceful, but it’s actually been a goal of mine for as long as I can recall – to have English classes that are as stylish and charming as, say, a dance performance, or even an opera. I think of this often as I’m listening to an opera. The refined melodies and elegant harmonies put me into a mood of relaxation and inspiration, exactly the kind of mood I want to create in every class I teach. I’d like each class to be as well-designed as an opera – all the parts of the lesson blending with style, and all the students adding their individual talents in a perfectly suitable manner. In an opera, some performers play supporting roles, coming on stage only occasionally but still adding essential features to the overall performance, and the same is true of a good English class. There are the front-and-center students, the confident and voluble ones, but there are also, of course, the quieter students who watch and listen, but who bring indispensable support to the discussion just when it’s most needed. Each is required for a truly good opera or English class. Each adds chic and grace to the performance, whether it’s in Room 2 in a little school in the Connecticut countryside or on the main stage at Lincoln Center in New York.

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