Wednesday, December 08, 2010


“Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm in an impalpable certain rest,
Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.”
--Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

This passage speaks perfectly about the kind of teacher I try to be. I absolutely want to be “in the game” -- sharing the learning process with the students, feeling their liveliness or lack of it, contributing to the creation of ideas -- but at the same time I try to stay “out of the game”. A teacher must be a talker, a performer, a maker, and a manipulator – but he must also be a silent witness, a passerby who’s fascinated by the strange deeds of the adolescents who happen to show it in his classroom. He must, at the same time, be involved and detached, drawn in to the action and aloof from it. It’s not an easy task, this living a double life, but it has its splendid compensations. It’s like skydiving and simultaneously observing myself doing it, or riding a rowdy horse and at the same time watching myself with interest and astonishment. It’s a chaotic and sometimes frenzied life, this teaching of teenagers, but also a serene and unflustered one. I’m always down on the field for the tumultuous sport called “English class”, but happily, I’m also, at the exact same time, surveying the action from the bleachers like a curious and mystified spectator.

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