Thursday, April 08, 2010


         As their English teacher, I try to encourage my students to take good care of their minds. I’m sure countless people have advised them to take care of their bodies, but what about protection and provision for their minds? A mind can fall into disorder and shabbiness as easily as a body, and a kind of cancer can grow among thoughts just as surely as among tissues and organs. Like all of us, students should be devoted to the health and wellbeing of their minds, and I try to help them in that endeavor.  For instance, I force them to rigorously exercise their mind, just as their athletic coaches put them through their physical paces on the field and court.  I push them through seemingly inscrutable poems and thorny, tangled stories, making them think themselves, now and then, into exhaustion. I hope they’re gasping for their mental breath when a class period ends.  I also try to feed their minds only the healthiest foods during English class. We read the finest literature I can find – books that will bring stimulation and nourishment to their minds.  No fast-food poems, no take-out stories, no drive-through novels – only the kind of illuminated literature that will let a shaft of healthful light into their young minds. Of course, I also have to help them learn to bar their mental doors to thoughts that can be unwholesome during English class. Like all of us, stray ideas steadily pass through their minds, and during an exhausting class inspection of a Faulkner short story, some of my students are surely tempted to welcome a roving daydream or two, whatever it might bring, as long as it’s something besides Faulkner. My job is to encourage them to be sentries at the doors of their minds, to stand guard at the entrances, permitting only thoughts fitting for the topic. I want them to be free thinkers but also stern coaches and trainers of their brains. I want them to leave each English class feeling like their minds are more hale and hearty than ever. 

© 2010 Hamilton Salsich

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