Wednesday, January 11, 2012


If we have confidence, in one sense we can stop being so careful about everything. If my students and I truly see the strength and diversity of our own thoughts, and the indestructability of them, and the fact that they flow through our lives with irresistible steadiness, then the need for caution and carefulness drops away. We know that nothing can prevent us from presenting ourselves to the world as thinkers of thoughts that are bursting with freshness. In a way, we have no choice in the matter. Our make-up is that of free-flowing rivers of ideas. All we have to do is put aside diffidence and faint-heartedness, and let the flow pour on. This sort of reckless confidence in the classroom seems contrary to the usual suggestion that students should think and write with unreserved caution, always selecting their thoughts and words with the utmost restraint, but I guess what I’m wanting in my students’ work in English class, at least some of the time, is less self-discipline and more looseness and even rowdiness. Why all the diffidence and hesitancy about our capacity to think astonishing thoughts? Does not our blood flow freely and liberally? Do not our lungs let in grand drafts of refreshing air without our fretting and being careful about it?

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