Thursday, March 11, 2010


“… [as] unobtrusive as the wafted odor of roses.”
            -- George Eliot, Daniel Deronda
         I’ve slowly come to the conclusion that I’m against pushing of almost any kind, including the kind I used to do as a teacher. In the early years of my career, I was very much into pushing kids into becoming successful English students. I guess I pictured myself as something like a heavy equipment operator, my job being to figuratively move, shove, pull, thrust, and impel my students to achieve the goals of the syllabus. I was a “pusher” of the first order. Everything I did in the classroom resembled snowplowing more than genuine teaching. A teacher who constantly pushes his students (as I did) is an obtrusive teacher – one who  encroaches upon the students instead of earnestly and unpretentiously teaching them.  I was an insolent, bad-mannered teacher, in the sense that I didn’t much care what the kids were feeling or thinking; I had a syllabus to teach, and everything else be damned.  I was an intrudernd year of teaching, I guess I try to teach by wafting rather than pushing. I think more good things happen in the universe by rather than a teacher. Luckily, it’s different nowadays. I was struck this morning by the passage from Eliot above, because now, in my 42drifting, floating, gliding, or hovering, than by goading and ramming – and so I try to teach like the universe acts. The lessons I want to teach will have a far greater effect if they sort of inconspicuously float into the students’ lives instead of battering and pummeling them. I’d like them to come to understand a poem the way they might slowly but surely come to take pleasure in the ambiance of a forest, almost without knowing they’re doing it. I’d like the teacher in Room 2 to be as unobtrusive as a breeze that, while it goes largely unnoticed, unassumingly does exactly what it’s designed to do.           

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