Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Church in Room 2

I often heard my mother use the phrase, “for the love of all that’s holy”, and nowadays those words often come to mind when I consider the good fortune I’ve found in my life as a teacher. As the many years have passed, I’ve come to realize that I enjoy teaching for precisely that reason – for the love of all that’s holy. Here I don’t use the word ‘holy’ in a religious sense, but rather in the sense of something being hallowed, or greatly revered and respected. My classroom has become a hallowed place for me, a place of prestige and high-mindedness, a place where work of the highest significance is carried on. Each time I arrive at the classroom, I feel like bowing in respectfulness before entering. It’s for this reason that I expect the students to enter in a dignified manner – no loud talking, no horseplay, just steadfast scholars entering a place set aside for distinguished work. This by no means rules out lightheartedness, for laughs and smiles are acts of respectful camaraderie, and they belong in the most inviolable places, whether churches or classrooms. In a serious classroom, there can, and should, be a serious amount of cheerfulness. Indeed, students are sometimes the most cheerful when they sense that both they and their work are being treated with respect and a certain amount of solemnity. I don’t go to church on Sunday, but maybe I go several times each day at school. Emily Dickinson said her church was her orchard and the choir was a bobolink, so perhaps it’s not too implausible to say my church is Room 2 and the kids create the music that blesses.

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