I would like my classes to be comfortable for my students, though by that I don’t mean easy. The word “comfortable” derives from the Latin words meaning “with power”, and easy assignments certainly don’t promote the feeling of being with power. Only by setting arduous tasks and challenging obstacles before the students can I encourage them to feel their own power. Only by driving them up steep literary trails and through thorny writing projects can I enable them to be truly comfortable – truly able, quite literally, to be with power. Of course, I always try to be there to comfort the students as they wrestle with my weighty assignments, but to comfort them is simply to remind them that they are already “with the power” they need. When I comfort students, I don’t pity, feel sorry for, commiserate with, or grieve for them; on the contrary, I simply remind them that they already have all the power necessary to do the task at hand. I remind them that they can be comfortable, in the true sense of that word, with the assignment.
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