Wednesday, July 28, 2010


When I think about teaching English to teenagers, the word “yet” often comes to mind. Here I’m thinking of it as a conjunction, meaning something like “but at the same time” – as in “I’ve been teaching for over 40 years, yet I often feel dumber than when I started.” Teaching kids is a puzzling, paradoxical enterprise, which leads me to often feel wise yet also a complete fool. I’m sure I’ve become a more organized teacher, yet, strangely, I sense unrestrained chaos just below the surface of my lessons and classes. I’m a well-trained and qualified educator, yet I sometimes feel, at the start of class, like a kid on the edge of a wilderness. I guess I shouldn’t fret too much about all this yet-ness, since all of life seems to be a ‘yet’ kind of situation. I love my four grandchildren, yet I sometimes pine for peace and stillness when I’m with them for hours. The sunshine brightens beaches not far from my house, yet millions in sweltering places pray for the sun to soften a little. This afternoon, my backyard is a breezy place of beauty, yet down the roads of the world there is woe and weariness all around. All I can do, I suppose, is accept all these ‘yets’ and try to see the good sense of them. After all, life – including teaching -- is a total mystery to me, yet I do so often get a glimpse, too, of its trimness and splendor.

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