Wednesday, December 09, 2009


I sometimes mull over the idea of power in my classes – where it resides and where it comes from. Of course, it’s easy to simply say that power resides with me, (because I’m the teacher) and that it comes from my experience as an adult – but that’s just skimming the surface of the subject. Diving a little deeper, I might say that as much power resides with the students as with me. After all, the power associated with learning comes from thoughts, and who can say that my thoughts are any more powerful than those of my students? After all, I don’t think anyone has yet discovered a way to measure the force of a thought, so it’s possible that the slimmest, most delicate thought of a teenage English scholar could actually be as powerful as the thought of a seasoned and sagacious teacher. Going deeper still, is it possible that the power in a classroom actually comes from somewhere outside the students and me? Again, we can dismiss this question by saying that power obviously comes from our thoughts -- but where do our thoughts come from? As a teacher, do I personally and individually manufacture my own thoughts, or do I actually borrow pieces of ideas from sources outside me, and then merely put them together in new ways? It seems to me that the thoughts my students and I make use of in our classroom come from sources that are spread across the vast distances of the world – sources that are impossible to finally locate with any precision. Power in English class, I guess, is like the wind: who can say where it begins or where it ends?

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