Tuesday, May 11, 2010
CARS AND THOUGHTS COMING AND GOING
Today, as I was climbing the hills near my house for my morning exercise, the cars randomly coming and going reminded me of the arbitrariness and uncertainty that inevitably make up a part of my English classes. Surely all the cars knew precisely where they were going, just as I like to think I know exactly where I’m going in each class – but in my case, there’s way more arbitrariness than I like to admit. For one thing, my thoughts are among the most haphazard of all events. When I’m planning a lesson or teaching a class, thoughts crisscross through my mind like cars gone crazy. I can pretend that my thoughts arrive at the doors of my mind like orderly servants, but the truth is quite different. If my thoughts were cars on the street, disorder and dread would rule. My students, too, must sense some of this randomness as they work on their weekly writing assignments. Perhaps they, too, notice how their thoughts sort of speed along the streets of their minds, dashing together into phrases and forcing their way into the traffic of sentences in the essay. Some of their best ideas are possibly also the most whimsical and reckless, just randomly rushing around in their minds, getting lost, crashing, coming to a dead stop sometimes. It’s a marvel, really, that the students ever manage to systematically park some thoughts in an essay, and that I sometimes am able to steer a few accidental ideas into a structured and competent lesson.