Monday, February 15, 2010


        I wonder if my students ever feel like flopping down in utter exhaustion after English class. When they walk out of the classroom, are their minds ever, so to speak, gasping for breath because of the intense brain workout they’ve experienced during my class? Do they ever feel like the class they just left was one of the most demanding ordeals they’ve ever been through?  I actually hope so. In a way, I wouldn’t mind if my classes had some similarities to the women’s Olympic10K cross-country ski race I watched this afternoon. As the competitors crossed the finish line, they collapsed with fatigue, leaning on their poles and struggling for breath. They had given all of their strength to doing their best, and all they could do at the end was stagger and slump in weariness. Why shouldn’t my students feel a kind of breathless fatigue at the end of English class? If I’m doing my job as their English teacher (or coach, as I often think of myself), shouldn’t I demand their absolute best at all times? Shouldn’t I expect them to drive their brains with the same intensity that the Swedish gold medal winner drove her body today? The ski race was a grueling test for the competitors, and maybe I should think of a 48-minute 9th grade English class that way. Maybe I’d like to see the kids come to class with severe and single-minded faces, the way they might approach the starting line of a punishing race. At the end of class, I could offer, perhaps, cups of ice water to refresh their worn out minds as they drag themselves out the door.

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