Monday, February 21, 2011


"Snowy Range Road Wyoming", oil, by George Coll
Driving to school this morning on snowy roads, it struck me that I was using a combination of gentleness and strength that is similar to what I use with my students. The roads were slick in unseen places, so my hands had to be soft enough on the steering wheel to allow the car to sort of flow over the snow instead of assailing it like an adversary. I had to almost let the wheel turn itself in my hands as it “sensed” what maneuvers needed to be made. Simultaneously, however, I had to be strong – had to stay absolutely alert and observant, sitting up straight with eyes fixed firmly on the road. Softness and muscle – it’s what I needed this morning, and it’s what I need each day in my teaching. There’s enough inflexibility and hardness in the world without my adding more in my classroom, so I try to share as much of my soft side with the students as possible – the side that allows me to confess to mistakes, to laugh at my own ignorance, and to sometimes let the class carry on with their own whims and interests. Nevertheless, I must still stay strong for the students, simply because it’s what they urgently need. Along with hardness, this world also has way too much flightiness and fickleness – too much oh-well-do-whatever-you-want kind of attitude – so I owe it to my students to show them the kind of affectionate supervision and kindly steadfastness that might make their world less frenzied and more full of light and discipline.

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