I sometimes grow concerned about the physical inactivity of most of my classes – a lot of sitting and speaking but not much standing or walking or working the muscles – but, at the same time, I am pleased to remind myself that there is always an abundance of mental action. No matter how motionless the students are, thoughts are constantly shooting through their minds like infinitesimal stars. Indeed, they can’t be stopped, these full-of-life mental creations of ours. Even a student who believes he’s bored and says “I can’t think of anything” is actually making thoughts faster then he’s breathing. This is good for me to remember, especially when a whole class of teenagers seems to be sagging under the tediousness of all things. I need to keep in mind that astonishing mental actions are happening right before my eyes, even as my students stare off toward the springtime trees outside. It’s never a question of getting my students to think deeply; they’re always doing that, in their own irreplaceable and boundless ways. I guess all I need to do is try my best to redirect their thoughts -- sort of start them shooting along my pre-planned academic paths.
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