There are really only two things my students need to know in order to be successful in my class: who they are and where they are going. Someone might say, “Well, what about how to write and read? Isn’t that important?” – and I would say of course, but if they don’t know their innermost gifts and the goal they are going toward in the course, the learning will surely be shallow and transitory. They will learn and forget. They will write the dozens of essays and read the demanding books, and when the course is over they will forget them all and be no different than they were before my English class. I want them to have a foundation beneath their learning; I want them to learn because they know who they are and where they are going. I want them to understand, in a profound way, that they are boundlessly skilled creations in an astonishing universe. I want them to feel, every time they write or read in my class, that they are performing marvelous feats in a marvelous world. But I also want them to have a clear sense of where my course is taking them, and that’s something I need to work on. Often, I’m afraid, my students do not know the destination of the course, because I have simply not made it clear. We have proceeded in a “day by day” manner, with no eye on the distant road, the long-term goal. I need to diligently work on that next year. I need to show the students, a few times each week, where my course is hoping to take them. If I can do that, and if the students can keep in mind how blessed and brave they really are, then we have a chance of making what perhaps is my last year of teaching a truly wonderful one.
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