Monday, July 16, 2012


Recently I discovered that the the word “notice” comes from the Latin word “noscere”, which means "to get to know". Noticing something, then, doesn’t mean, as I used to think, simply glancing at it in passing, as in “I noticed some new blossoms in the garden this morning.” That’s the kind of noticing I’ve been doing for years – just glimpsing things, taking a quick look as I rush by on my endless errands. It’s been especially true in my teaching, where I’ve often scurried through my lessons with blinders on, hardly paying a moment’s attention to the individual students sitting before me. Truly noticing means truly getting to know, as in studying, paying attention to, and learning about. If my goal in teaching is to get better at noticing things, this means I have to slow down and seriously observe. I can’t just glance at my students and then proceed to push through the lesson. Really noticing someone is earnest work. It requires observing, contemplating, beholding that person. It can’t be done quickly, in passing, the way I have often noticed my students. In a way, the word “notice” implies being a student, for I have to study someone in order to truly notice them. Perhaps this means I have to be as much a student as my students are. They are students of English because they are trying to notice (get to know) all the important concepts of reading and writing. I, on the other hand, am a student of my students. I need to study them. I need to get better at genuinely noticing them -- beholding them -- moment by moment, day by day.

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