Friday, May 27, 2011


"Cascadilla Stop", oil. by Jeff Mahorney
It’s increasingly obvious to me that my students should be made to study the difficult skill of stopping. They’ve been learning how to start for all the years of their young lives, but the art of stopping is a somewhat mysterious secret to most young people. They know how to sit down and start writing an essay, but they’re not sure just how and when to stop typing and sit back and scrutinize their sentences. They haven’t learned the wisdom of simply not writing for a few minutes in order to see if the words on the screen could be assembled in more stylish ways. They also don’t seem to know much about making occasional stops when reading a book. They usually read in such a hasty way that pausing to reconsider a page or revisit some sentences is out of the question. They race from page to page like cars with bad brakes. In my classroom, though, stopping is a standard occurrence – a prerequisite, an absolute necessity. We put the brakes on every few minutes, just to consider and question and reassess. We stop as often as we start, which maybe makes for slow learning, but maybe the kind the kids can keep for a few years.

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