Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I often think I’d rather be more of an impartial witness in my classes than someone called “the teacher”. As the official English teacher of my students, I’ve too often been the classic busybody, so beside myself with doing, striving, arranging, and accomplishing, that I almost never find time to stand back and simply observe what’s happening. An uncommon assortment of surprises reveals itself in each of my classes, but I rarely see it because of my fascination with doing, doing, doing. If dozens of flourishing roses miraculously materialized in the center of the classroom, I probably wouldn’t notice it, absorbed as I am in my incessant teacherly duties. What if I sat at the seashore on a flawless summer day and did nothing but draw up lesson plans for future classes – face buried in a notebook, never bothering to bring my eyes up to be surprised by the life of the surf and the brilliance of sea birds in their paradise? Or what if I sat among wondrous mountains and saw nothing but the words in a book I brought – saw neither imperious hillsides nor summits with pennants of clouds? I’m not suggesting that I can actually stop teaching and simply step back and observe for 48 minutes, but I am looking for a little less relentless doing and a little more thoughtful watching. Even while I’m teaching a lesson I can be an attentive witness, taking a seat in my mind and watching these teenage students and their teacher playing the elaborate and absorbing game called education.

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