Wednesday, June 08, 2011


When I’m teaching, I sometimes purposely see in my mind the far-flung plains of Kansas, for it makes a good reminder for me to take the widest possible view of the vast spaces presented to my students and me during class. Since it’s all too easy to see myself and the students as prisoners in a confined space called "9th grade English", struggling with countless small, restricted academic tasks, my imagined scene in Kansas (where I studied for several years) spreads it all out so I can see the enormous scope of what we’re actually dealing with in English class. Like the rolling, seemingly endless swells of the prairie, limitless works of literature and innumerable ways of writing words and sentences make up the landscape of our work. If we discussed the meaning of Julius Caesar forever, would we even come close to the final limits of the subject and a satisfying finish, or can anyone possibly count the numbers of ways a distinguished sentence can be composed? Truly, in the middle of teaching a class, I sometimes feel like I’m lost in the center of a never-ending Kansas, which, if it weren’t so stimulating and inspiring, could be a rather alarming feeling.

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