For my morning workout today, I walked the hilly streets near my house, and the relentless rush-hour traffic reminded me of the mayhem I sometimes make for myself in my work as an English teacher. The cars were rushing past me in a noisy hubbub, as if each driver was desperate to reach some special destination, and I occasionally see some of that desperation in my teaching. The cars were speeding up and down the hill the way I tear through topics in a lesson plan every now and then, as though just touching a topic is the same as teaching it. Like breakneck driving, that kind of hasty teaching makes no sense to me. This morning I felt for the drivers as they dashed who knows where, because I know what it’s like to get awestruck by speed: how fast can I do this lesson, how many stories can we read this semester, how many literary terms can we look at today, how many pages of this novel can I read tonight? Thankfully, I’m usually a reasonably undisturbed teacher, preferring purposefulness to haste and hurry, so the speediness trap doesn’t catch me too often. Unlike the cars this morning, I’d rather linger and hang back with my students. Reading and writing, after all, are chores of thoughtfulness and attention, not speed and tumult.
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