Thursday, March 18, 2010


After a hard day’s labor in the classroom, I sometimes wonder how long it will take for my carefully planned lessons to utterly vanish from my students’ minds. Will some of them disappear from their lives as fast as short-lived spring breezes? Will some last only as long as the shapes of clouds, which fade away almost as fast as they form? Or, if I’m lucky, will some lessons be as enduring as banana peels, which experts tell us take up to five weeks to decompose? It’s an honest question to ask when you’re teaching teenagers, whose lives transform as swiftly as weather patterns. I spend many hours each week painstakingly preparing what I believe are significant lesson plans, but, in my more skeptical moments, I think I may as well be preparing significant bubbles to blow into the breeze. As Emily Dickinson would know, my students’ brains are “wider than the sky”, providing plenty of room for my diminutive lesson plans to drift away in the distance, pop, and pass away. However, there may be hope. Scanning the Internet this morning, I came upon the fact that disposable diapers take upwards of 500 years to decompose. If diapers can withstand the years, why not lessons on symbolism and semicolons? Perhaps, without my realizing it, the lessons I share with my students each day settle inside them like diapers at the dump, silently persisting, refusing to go away. Perhaps years from, even generations from now, the remnants of a lesson on using participles may give off steam enough to set some future life in a fresh direction.

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