Thursday, June 02, 2011


As I make my long daily drive to school on the interstate, I often have to swing to the outside lane to let a driver enter the highway, and this morning it made me think of the satisfaction that yielding can bring in English class. One dictionary includes “give something up” in the definition of the word, and I, for one, must give up many things during class if I’m doing my work well. I sometimes have to give up my own esteemed ideas as I listen to the students share theirs. No matter how basic and unsophisticated they might seem, the students’ ideas have just as much right to “the road” as mine do, and I must be ready to graciously yield and let their thoughts come along beside my own. After all, we’re all hopefully traveling toward the same destination -- the truth -- so why not surrender some space in the discussion to their perhaps ill-considered but often thought-provoking ideas? Of course, the same applies to the students as well. I insist on the importance of yielding as they discuss a topic among themselves. A discussion is not a contest to see who’s superior, nor is it a free-for-all to find which student is the fastest and loudest talker. A classroom discussion, like a drive on the highway, should be simply a satisfying effort to both get somewhere and enjoy the journey, which means all participants must be willing to sometimes wait, slow down, listen, and possibly yield. For both my students and me, yielding makes for a far more elevating experience than just pressing forward and hard-driving our own ideas and disregarding others who, like cars, seek to merge into the flow.

No comments: