Tuesday, September 01, 2009


One of my favorite dictionaries says the most common meaning for “yield” is “to produce or provide a natural product”, and, in that sense, I hope a great amount of yielding will occur in each of my classes. Just as a farmer looks forward to an abundant “yield” of crops each year, I look forward to the ripening and flowering of untold ideas in my classroom. The students, you might say, are the fruitful and fecund soil, out of which will slowly rise a plentiful crop of wholesome thoughts. Someone passing my room and glancing in might be reminded of harvest time down on the farm. Another common definition of “yield” is “to give way to pressure”, as in “He yielded to the demands of his peers.” My students don’t make demands on me, but they definitely bring pressure to bear during class – the pressure of their own attentive and sensible lives. It’s a quiet and gentle pressure – the kind of loving pressure that most young people tend to exert wherever they are – but it’s also an intense pressure. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned over the years is to yield, as gracefully as possible, to this pressure of my students – to this steady and useful wisdom of adolescence.

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