Thursday, May 31, 2012


“This was a scene which had always been part of his home--part of the dignified ease which had been a matter of course in his life.”
     -- George Eliot, Daniel Deronda

     I can’t think of a more fitting phrase to describe the way I try to teach – and live – than “dignified ease”. I try to teach the way trees stand as tall as they can while still being springy and supple. I try to speak to my students with both solemnity and easiness, as though I’m a wind that’s strong but also useful. I hope, when a visitor stops in my classroom, that I seem serious and yet happy-go-lucky, focused and yet completely comfortable.  I come to nature for endless examples of this kind of careful effortlessness. I see it in breezes that can carry ships across oceans, and yet are as soft as silk as they pass you. I see it in mountains that stand in solid but seemingly stress-free ways, rising stalwartly but peacefully above us.  Most of all, I see it in water that works its way through the world with both persistence and lenience, always letting itself flow in the strongest but easiest ways. I could do no better, as a teacher, than be a breeze or a mountain or a mighty but mild-mannered river, making its sure but easygoing way toward teaching teenagers something useful for their lives.

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