Friday, May 20, 2011


"Morning Mist", pastel, by Karen Margulis
I’m sure it sounds strange to say that a teacher should occasionally use something like mist in his teaching, but I’ve often thought of this as I’ve led students through my often murky lessons and assignments. I actually like to purposely put the students into academic situations that seem shadowy and obscure to them, mostly because it gives them the chance to experience the pleasure of finally finding open space and understanding. There’s some mistiness, some puzzling haze, in all our activities in English class. It seems to me that providing complete clarity for students is somewhat like hiking with them only on flat trails at the base of a mountain, instead of setting off to test the steep trails to the top. If there’s no darkness now and then, there won’t be any dawns -- those moments, for instance, when students suddenly see the significance of a story or poem. Reading A Tale of Two Cities with 9th graders is like leading them up a sheer and misty trail, but the perplexity and murkiness only serves to make the sunshine of understanding at the summit even more satisfying.

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