Monday, March 07, 2011


Lately, I’ve been discussing with my students the concept of “protagonist”, and it has reminded me that I often drift into considering myself the gallant and sometimes unappreciated protagonist of a serious drama called “Ninth Grade English”. It’s amazing how alluring this fantasy is – this notion that I am the center of an ongoing tragicomedy involving some of the most essential questions of life. In the back of my mind, a video frequently plays, in which “Mr. Salsich” is the intrepid fighter for his students’ education, defying the most disheartening obstacles as he leads the students onward and upward. What’s peculiar about this daydream is that it’s utterly groundless and illusory. It’s as if a minuscule swell along a shore saw itself as the center of the entire ocean, or as if a breeze blowing by considered itself the boss of all the winds worldwide. I am no more the protagonist – the center – of the educational drama in my classroom than any single star is at the precise center of the sky. The sky is vast beyond measurement, and so is the learning my students are involved in. I am one small star, you might say, in a process of learning that is boundless. I shine modestly among zillions of other lights that show the students the way. I simply teach things like comma rules and the significance of the word “protagonist”, while the power of the universe, the real protagonist, prepares everlasting learning experiences for my students.

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