Friday, March 19, 2010


“These, these will give the world another heart,
And other pulses. Hear ye not the hum 
Of mighty workings? —————
Listen awhile, ye [teacher], and be dumb.”
-- John Keats (in a sonnet addressed to his friend Benjamin Robert Haydon)

      I took the liberty of replacing “nations” with “teacher” in the above lines, because as a teacher of teenagers, I do have to learn to “listen awhile”, and perhaps “be dumb”, meaning silent and fascinated, a little more often. I think of my students when I read the first line – “these” meaning the feisty, foolhardy, wise, and cunning kids I am fortunate to spend some time with each day. They may frustrate me with their stretches of impassive silence and bewildering craziness, but I have no doubt that, as the years pass, they will indeed “give the world another heart.” I may be in charge of my students now, but in the future, it is they who will provide the “pulses” for the life of humankind. I need to simply shut up more often during class and listen for the early “hum” of those pulses. It’s sadly true that I get so busy with my ten-thousand school day tasks and responsibilities that I miss many chances to catch the interesting buzzings of my students’ thoughts. There are “mighty workings” going on in the minds of each of my students (to doubt that would be the height of either smugness or blindness), and I need to stand back and stay silent more often, listening respectfully to the youth of our world. “They’re just kids”, someone may say, and I would say, “Yes, and a sunrise is just a sunrise.” A new day dawns for humanity tomorrow and ten years from now, and these restless and perceptive kids in my classroom will help lift whatever kind of sun rises.

No comments: