Friday, February 18, 2011


"Melting Snow", oil, by Don Gray
As I’m writing this, I’m listening to the haphazard sounds of melting snow dripping off the eaves, and it reminds me of the sometimes unsystematic operations of my English classes. I try my best to bring order and arrangement to all my classes, but inevitably there are those times when my teaching takes a detour down an appealing path, and before long the lesson has become a rather free and easy excursion among out-of-the-blue topics. The melting snow drips in its own accidental way, and these freewheeling classes of mine make their turns and stops and detours as chance dictates. It’s like letting a car loose to drive itself, or like Don Quixote kicking his horse in the side and saying, “Steer yourself and I’ll ride along.” Surely this kind of haphazard teaching is not something I desire or seek, but when it happens, I tend to take a step back, at least for a few minutes, and see where it takes us. After all, there’s great beauty in certain kinds of randomness – the casual rustling of tree limbs in the wind, the offhand flow of rivers, the laid-back look of afternoon light as the hours pass – and perhaps my occasionally messy classes can create an eccentric and special kind of learning in the classroom. By letting things happen spontaneously now and then, maybe I can make it possible for the students to share in the magic of looseness and naturalness, like the slapdash dripping from the eaves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I came across your blog today. What a refreshing breath of fresh air. I, too, am an English teacher.....thank you for refreshing me. I read your posts and heard my own musings...snow days too....

Barbara Cheney
Dickson Academy, Burns, TN