“How very beautiful these gems are!” said Dorothea, under a new current of feeling […].”
-- George Eliot, Middlemarch
As I read the above sentence last night, I pictured Dorothea Brooke wholly submerged in her feelings, with new currents constantly passing over and around her, and then I pictured my young students in the same situation. To a casual observer (and even to the teacher) my 9th grade English classes can sometimes seem sluggish and even sleep inducing, but the appearance is deceiving, because under the surface the currents of feeling are effervescent and relentless. Inside the often silent and expressionless kids that sit before me each day are feelings that would shout if they had voices. If feelings were rivers, those in my classroom would carry us all away on floods. I’ve seen evidence of this fact too many times to count. We’ll be studying a bewildering line from Wordsworth when suddenly a smile spreads across a face, just as if a new current of thought passed by, and the student starts to speak with wisdom about the line. Or, out of the blue, a student will bring us back to something said many minutes before and offer a fresh thought on it, like a new current in a river suddenly coming along. And the teacher is no different. Even now, as I type this, I feel fresh, unused currents of thoughts and feelings flowing around me, carrying me along to who knows where.