DEATH IN ENGLISH CLASS
A lot of death is evident now in the autumn trees in my part of the country (New England), and, surprising as it may sound, I hope a lot of another kind of death is evident in my English classes. While the multicolored leaves are floating down from the trees outside my classroom, old ideas of a wide variety are, I hope, dying and drifting away inside my students’ minds. Each week, I hope the floor of my student’s minds are littered with layers of old, crinkly, cast-off ideas, because how else can there be room for new ones? Leaves die to provide space and nutrition for new growth in the spring, and used-up, useless ideas must quietly die so that new thoughts can bud and blossom. It’s an old story in nature that the old must make room for the young, and the same is true for thoughts. And who knows, perhaps dying thoughts, in a way, are just as beautiful as the dying autumn leaves. The leaves show us their best beauty as they depart, and the "aged" thoughts of my adolescent students may also show some blaze and sparkle as they sail away during an English class discussion. I sometimes picture in my mind the dog-eared, dilapidated, but strangely colorful ideas floating away from the young people as new ideas arrive. I picture myself walking around the classroom, stepping lightly on the refuse of jettisoned teenage thoughts.