I sometimes think my main responsibility as a teacher is not so much to help students learn as to make sure the learning they’re already involved in carries on. It occurs to me that I’m not so much a teacher as a facilitator – someone who makes it as easy (L. facilis) as possible for the students to continue to flow with the process of learning, a process as pervasive and enduring as the wind. When the students walk into my classroom each day, they are already involved with this process. They are thinking or feeling deeply about some issue, be it a serious personal predicament or simply the look of the light snow falling on the ski trails last weekend. Their minds and hearts are working hard, as usual, and hard work means learning – not the academic kind of learning we’re caught up in as teachers, but the learning that happens constantly because they, like all of us, are continuously thinking or imagining or supposing or pondering or estimating or presuming or wondering. In other words, they are being educated at all times, including the moment they enter my room for English class. If I can keep that in mind, if I can remember that my students, in a sense, are working through their own “lesson plans” as they take their seats in my room, then perhaps my lesson won’t be a complete disruption of their own personal education (as it often is, I’m afraid), but rather a reasonable and fairly enjoyable trip down a branch of the great river of learning they’re always traveling.
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