“They rooted themselves in her mind, and grew there as quietly as grass.”
-- George Eliot, Silas Marner
Not a lot seems to be happening in many of my English classes as the sleepy students sit through my sometimes (I must confess) tedious lessons, but perhaps inside minds and hearts, away from the lackluster discussions and activities, some promising thoughts and feelings are quietly growing. It occurs to me, now that I think about it, that almost everything of importance grows slowly and quietly, away from the superficial clamor of a thoroughly rushing world. While countless misfortunes, shouts of pleasure, disasters, and peaceful moments of satisfaction have come and gone, an oak tree in my yard has been growing, bit-by-bit, for more than 200 years. While I’m typing this, the skin on my fingers is silently transforming itself as cells pass away and new ones form, and the grass outside, as Eliot knew, is growing in its secret and steady manner. Everything, you might say, is always growing, and the growth usually makes as soft a sound as possible. Perhaps, then, I shouldn’t be pessimistic about the seeming lassitude in my students, because it may be that serious expansion and progress is occurring just inside the silence of their uninterested faces. Perhaps a thousand helpful thoughts are slowly thinking themselves into something special, into ideas that will someday push up and blossom like exceptional flowers. Who knows? Maybe a few of those up-and-coming thoughts might have been thrown down in the students’ minds like seeds during one of my classes, seeds which needed hours of silent rest (sometimes provided by English class) in order to sprout and show their surprises.