Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Face to Face Teaching

This year one of my teaching goals is to do more face-to-face teaching. By this I don’t mean aggressive, in-your-face teaching – the kind of teaching that takes a teacher right up against the students in a hostile stance, putting him in a contentious position as the students’ opponent instead of partner. That’s the kind of so-called “tough” teaching that I thought was distinctive and first-rate back in my first rash and incautious years in the classroom, but I’ve learned that bluster and bravado only create chaos in the minds of kids, certainly not wisdom and peace. Given that kind of cantankerous teaching, it’s better for kids to travel the streets for wisdom than waste time in a quarrelsome classroom. I guess I’m talking more about the kind of teaching that takes me and the students face-to face with what should be at the center of all English lessons -- words and ideas. When I’m planning lessons and teaching, I often get lost on side roads and by-paths, instead of focusing on what’s truly important – the significance and influence of individual words and ideas. After a class, I sometimes feel like forceful words and great ideas were lurking along the route of my lesson, but we never managed to come face to face with them. What it will take is a little slowing down on my part. I need to be a more deliberate and unhurried teacher, the kind of teacher who takes his students slowly along the road of a lesson to see the special sights, the words and ideas that can carry kids’ minds to surprising heights. If I don’t “cover” as much in a lesson, at least we haven’t missed the miracles along the way. There will be time for the students, sooner or later in their remaining 80-some years, to find the miracles we missed.

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