Wednesday, July 20, 2011


It might seem a stretch to compare one of my 9th grade English classes to a workout at the gym, and yet I am striving to build a certain kind of strength in my students – a strength that’s very much connected to quietness and confidence. It’s a shame that strength, these days, is so often associated with noisy bravado – with bragging and boasting and singing your own praises – when, to my way of thinking, true strength constructs a quietness that’s far more remarkable than clamor and horn-blowing. I want each of my students to develop an inner power that produces quiet confidence, the kind that sometimes creates a strange calm in classmates, as though just sitting next to this student settles you and sets you up on a mental hill. The quietness, perhaps, comes from knowing that what you know is nothing compared to the vast expanses of knowledge in the universe, and therefore you might as well relax and appreciate the sheer smoothness and lightness of all this nonstop knowledge. I hope my students come to discover that knowledge is not really something to struggle for or labor after, but that it’s more like a current in a quiet sea, a current that can easily carry them to incredible places and create a confidence that’s way stronger than shouts and chest-poundings

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