Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Every so often I say to a student, “Oh, it doesn’t really matter”, and I always say it with absolute sincerity, for those few words are among the most honest words I know. As my many years in the classroom have passed, I’ve seen more and more clearly that almost nothing really matters – certainly not quiz scores nor interpretations of poems nor the ways the students use complex sentences in an essay. These things perhaps matter on the infinitesimal scale of our personal academic ambitions, but they don’t really matter, not when measured against the magnitude of this astounding universe we’re all part of. When students fall into a frenzy over the frustrations they feel as they carry out my assignments, I occasionally have to tell them that, truly, it doesn’t really matter. What really matters is not that every piece of punctuation is properly placed, nor that a variety of sentence lengths is used, nor even that an assignment is turned in on time. What really matters is simply, and only, that the students do their best with every situation. The moments of their lives, including their English class, are miracles in their midst, and their only responsibility is to see and savor those miracles. That’s what really matters.

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