-- George Eliot, Middlemarch
I occasionally think of teaching and learning as a process of, to rephrase George Eliot, weaving a little future. I picture my students and I sitting in the classroom with make-believe looms, making small pieces of our futures by following the themes in a novel or knowing, at last, what Shakespeare means in certain lines from The Tempest. We might just be joining each other, say, in a conversation about the use of participles in essays, but perhaps even that seemingly inconsequential conversation creates a small strand in our future lives. Every sentence we say in class can contribute, in a small way, to the lives that lie ahead of us – can fashion a few more miniscule designs for the upcoming years. When we’re wondering together what some lines in a poem might mean, we’re designing, if just to an infinitesimal degree, the way our days will develop in the weeks and years ahead.