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"Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time..."
-- John Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn"
Despite the haste and hurry that is sometimes involved in teaching teenagers, I almost always have the sense that something like Keats' "silence and slow time" is the strength that actually produces most of the learning that occurs in my classes. Every so often, amid the outer noise of discussion and the inner noise of criss-crossing thoughts, there are a few moments of silence when time moves, you might say, slowly and restfully, and it is then, I think, that new thoughts can most easily be born to bring us guiding lights. When silence and the seemingly slow progress of time encircle my classroom, as happens with some consistency, the thoughts of my students often come alive in fresh and useful ways. Silence, so to speak, is the comforting presence, and slow time is the supportive escort for the new ideas -- the kind of ideas that are found when peace and a little leisure come together in English class.