Friday, December 11, 2009


When someone asks me “How was class?”, I’m sometimes temped to say, “Wonderful. They’re always wonderful” – but I’m sure I would be misunderstood.  I definitely wouldn’t mean that all my classes are thorough or exciting or successful, for many of them are the opposite -- half-baked, mind-numbing, and hopeless. In 40+ years in the classroom, I’m sure I’ve left behind a long trail of busted plans and broken down lessons. No, when I say that all my classes are “wonderful”, I’m referring to the word’s original meaning – “full of wonder”. I truly wonder at all of my classes. Even a class that seems rife with tedium and empty-headedness is worthy of wonder, as in, “What in the world am I doing in this profession?”, or “How did the universe manage to set these kids and me down in this little classroom?” The truth is that my students – all of them – are deserving of wonder, by the very fact that they breathe and think and smile and see. They often act in ways that befuddle and frustrate me, but that only adds to my feeling of astonishment, for the frustration they cause me comes from their out-and-out inscrutability. I have absolutely no idea who or what they are. I am often lost in amazement at their impenetrability, their mysteriousness. If I frequently look bewildered after my classes, it’s not because a class flopped (thought it well might have), but simply because I’m truly full of wonder, day after day. To paraphrase Butch Cassidy, “Who are these kids? Who am I? What are we doing here?”     

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