Thursday, June 17, 2010

Knowing Too Much

I sometimes have the odd sensation that I know too much to be a good teacher. My mind occasionally feels so full of ideas – some of them boasting of being “well thought out” and “scholarly” – that no room is left for the simple and spotless ideas of my adolescent students. My so-called mature and experienced brain generates so much noisy thinking that, most likely, no youthful voice is able to be truly heard. It’s as if my mind is a raucous loudspeaker that constantly booms and barks its thoughts, and what teenage mental music can he heard in such a din? I wonder: Is it possible for me to unlearn -- to de-teach myself, to open the bottom of my mind and let a lot of these useless ideas drain away? Is there a way to sponge down my mind so as to free it from some of the accumulated dust of bigheaded ideas? I actually sometimes wish my brain were almost cleared out when I meet my students to discuss a poem or a story, because then the words on the page and the power of the kids’ ideas might almost stun me. If the rooms of my mind were fairly vacant, my students’ thoughts could conveniently find all kinds of space there. It could be a huge hotel with prepared and ready rooms each day. As it is now, I’m afraid the kids often find an absurdly overstuffed old house when they come to the door of my mind. “No room at the inn” might be the sign outside.

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