Sunday, July 31, 2011


"Summer in the City", oil, by Liza Hirst
Like most teachers, my grades for students tend to spread out across a suitable range from D’s to A’s, but in one category they always receive A+’s: plain and simple goodness. I recall a film where Robert DeNiro looked at someone and said, with emphasis, “You are good!” – and I say exactly that to my students quite regularly, simply because I believe it. They’re not perfect in their understanding of dramatic irony or in detecting dangling modifiers in their writing, but they are, to my way of thinking, perfectly good. To me, their goodness has neither defects nor border lines, but is as unblemished as the sunshine. Does this mean their actions are always respectable and first-class? Of course not, just as sunshine is not always at its best and brightest. There are days in my class when the students’ attitudes seem far from wonderful, just as there are days when the light of the sun dims and darkens behind clouds. However, I know from long classroom experience that an impressive sun of goodness is always shining inside these boys and girls, just as our loyal sun in the sky stays full of flawless light no matter what the clouds do. I can grade essays with C’s and B’s, but I can’t grade a person’s goodness, mostly because it’s not a quantifiable entity – not something I can measure and appraise. My students’ goodness is like sunshine, boundless and everlasting, and who can pigeonhole or grade sunshine with anything but an A+?

No comments: