I find it strange that some teachers see the illuminating shine of their first few years in the classroom slowly flatten out to a pale and prosaic light, whereas the opposite seems to have happened to me. In the early years, some teachers are suffused with the intensity of this wondrous work that we do, but often it slowly fades away to a dull and dreary day-to-day flatness. When they started in the classroom, there was the shine of enthusiasm over everything, a stirring luminosity that gave their work the glow of grandeur, but slowly this all vanished away into a lackluster sameness. Sparkle, we might say, gave way to wearisomeness. With me, surprisingly, it has been almost the reverse. Nowadays, in my 48th year as a teacher, there seems to be radiance everywhere in my classroom. Even when the kids quietly sail away from me on daydreams during a lesson, even that seems to burst with the brightness of some kind of special learning. Every word I say in class seems – to me, at least – to have been born in the vividness of the universe rather than in my small and relatively insignificant brain. The things the students say these days, in my senior-citizen years, shine for me like they rarely did when I was a classroom novice. Why does this happen? Why do some of us lose the feel of Eliot’s “pearly dawn” as the years drift into dullness and even darkness, while others, like me, are fortunate enough to find the light looking brighter than ever as the years pass? Why has the tedium of “noonday” never arrived in the classroom for me, but only the endless dawning of day after day of surprise and gladness?
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