Wednesday, April 18, 2012


“… the fresh running waters of his mind’s fountain.”
          -- Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers

"The Mystic River", oil, by Roxane Steed
     The above quote, which I came across yesterday after several freshly-flowing classes with my students, showed me once again why I feel so fortunate to be a teacher. You can try to find a vocation that feels more like living in the midst of the refreshing waters of healthy thoughts, but I doubt you will be successful. My students and I share ideas all day the way a river shares its countless drops and streams of water. We don’t so much sit in the classroom as flow, all our thoughts and feelings coursing and surging along for 48 minutes per class. Of course, the mystery -- the puzzle that never ceases to astonish me --  is that there sometimes seems to be no flow at all, as though all streams have stopped in stillness and slumber. A class of kids can quietly convince a teacher that trying to teach them is about as useless as trying to teach tables or empty boxes. I’ve sat among students who appear more like motionless stones in rivers than the rivers themselves. This, though, is just the usual illusion that fools so many of us teachers – that makes us miss the mighty flow of feelings and thoughts that’s always present when kids come together. Under the sometimes sleepy surface of English class, my students are streaming along with their always lively minds and hearts. Rivers of youthful thoughts are rolling along, even when my carefully planned lesson, say, on the life of Charles Dickens, is slowly dying away in dullness.

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