|"Wilderness Cascade", oil, by George Coll|
My herald thought into a wilderness.”
-- John Keats, “Endymion”
Reading these lines this morning brought back my old desire to be an adventuresome teacher, one who isn’t afraid to send his students into the wide wilderness of learning. I do try to teach lessons that students can learn with as little struggle as possible, but surprisingly, I also want them to wander a little, to roam and drift among poems and stories, to search by themselves the wilds of writing first-rate sentences and essays. Like Keats when he was writing his fearless, probing poems, I want my English lessons to lead the students out past the limits of their previous knowledge, out beyond even common sense and the so-called right answers, out to where wisdom always waits with its tools for transforming lives. Keats says his thoughts are “herald[s]” – messengers, emissaries, announcers of uncommon news – and perhaps my lessons can do something similar. Maybe my classes can cry out like couriers carrying news of new trails to take, trails even I, perhaps, have not fully traveled. It takes bravery to make poems that shine like lights in the darkness, and it takes a similar boldness to bring to students the kind of lessons that will send them off on valiant and fulfilling journeys.