Saturday, March 12, 2011


“…sudden mind arose in Adam…”
"Spring Storm", pastel, 
by Karen Margulis
        -- John Milton, Paradise Lost 

I love this phrase, mostly because I see so many “sudden minds” in my English classes. It happens swiftly and surprisingly, like a split-second flash of sunshine on a stormy day: a student suddenly sees into the soul of a poem or a paragraph or a story, or, even more astonishing, suddenly understands something of the spirit of life itself. I’ve see it happen to the humblest of students, the ones who say to themselves that their thoughts don’t shine like others. I’ve seen these unassuming kids, in the midst of their own stillness, abruptly break forth into words that seem filled with wonder. For me, this kind of “sudden mind” might be the single most marvelous aspect of teaching. It happens nearly every day, making a day in my classroom like a look into a land of miracles. It puts me on edge, makes me stay always observant, standing by to see the next unexpected rushing forward of youthful thoughts.

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