Saturday, June 26, 2010

Where Do They Come From?

I’m continually amazed when I consider the number of thoughts produced in each English class – a vast number, beyond counting or comprehending. The students and I are manufacturing thoughts moment by moment for 48 minutes, which amounts to tens of thousands thoughts in each class. I sometimes picture us sitting amidst a swarm of thoughts, always fresh and brisk, always buzzing among us like news from somewhere far away. A handful of students and a teacher almost hidden (or protected, perhaps) by thousands and thousands of up-to-the-minute thoughts: it’s an exciting scene to picture! What I often wonder is where do all these thoughts come from? Maybe 50,000 in each class -- 300,000 each day -- 1,500,000 each week – 54,000,000 each year: Where in the world, or the universe, do they all come from? It’s an impenetrable mystery, since there’s simply no way we could ever isolate the precise origin of a thought (short of employing the useless pseudo-explanation that it originates in the brain). It’s as if thoughts start somewhere but nowhere, inside us but in the far reaches of infinity. Locating a starting point is like trying to find where and when a single breeze began blowing. For me, it just adds to the enchantment of teaching. I sometimes feel like I’m in the midst of charmed kingdom when I’m teaching – a kingdom created and cared for by countless miraculous thoughts from the back of beyond.

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