Sunday, March 06, 2011


We teachers give of ourselves in countless ways, but perhaps the best gift I can give my students is the simple gift of space. I see constrained, restricted lives in the eyes of my students – lives lived inside the anxiousness of all kinds of fears and alarms – and I take pleasure in setting them free in my class. There’s more space in their hearts and minds than they can possibly imagine, and making that space visible and accessible to them is one of my most esteemed responsibilities. Restrictions on thinking and feeling find no place in my classes: the landscape of our work is as wide as an everlasting series of mountains. When reading, they are free to find insights and truths wherever they wish to roam, and the same is true in writing, where their sentences can soar out to the far distances of sentiment and understanding. They do, of course, have to obey the accepted standards of orderliness and correctness, but those boundaries, if understood rightly, are also doorways to unrestrained thinking and feeling. LeBron James does indescribable feats of magic with a basketball while abiding by a bevy of rules and regulations, and so can my students in the limitless secret lives they bring to English class.

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