Tuesday, July 12, 2011


"Wheatfields 2", oil, by Liza Hirst
A friend recently spoke of what she called “the infinite range of thought” – her belief that there are absolutely no limits to what we can think – and her words brought to mind an odd combination -- my students and a boundless sky. It does seem like a peculiar combination, especially since most of my students think their thoughts flutter around in the tiniest of skies. If I asked them to compare their minds to something, they might select a closet or a kitchen cupboard, something so small that only a few trifling thoughts can fit. My students, year after year, seem to see themselves as thinking in very small spaces instead of in boundless skies. My friend would tell them something different – that thoughts are immaterial and therefore not tied to the typical laws of materiality. Thoughts can move as fast as sound or sunshine, and out beyond the farthest borders. No fence, no frontier of any kind, can hold back even the smallest thought. Of course, if my students believe the range of their thoughts is confined and cramped, then, for them, it will be. We make our own prisons, especially when it comes to thinking, and most of my students sometimes choose to stay in their mental prisons, preparing undersized thoughts in what they consider to be their peewee brains. A significant part of my job as their English teacher is to show them the vast – indeed, infinite – span of their minds – to help them realize that they can think any of the countless thoughts available to all of us in this measureless, mysterious universe. All they need to do is believe it.

No comments: