Since one dictionary gives this as a definition for “reverence” -- deep respect for someone or something -- it's clear to me that my classroom could sometimes be called a place of reverence. I say “sometimes”, because occasionally my students, like all kids, lose sight of sharing and caring in a courteous manner, but usually there’s a sense of respect among my students, perhaps because I insist on it. If we can’t have genuine esteem for each other in English class, then all the reading and writing makes no magic whatsoever. It’s a waste of time and a complete contradiction to talk about dignified works of literature while acting in a thoroughly ill-mannered way. I insist that the students show respect for each other for almost the same reason that we show respect for esteemed symbols like the American flag. When we promise our faithfulness to our country in the presence of the flag, we stay silent and place our hands over our hearts, and when we listen to each other in English class, we must be even more deferential and appreciative. The human beings beside us in class are countless times more extraordinary and imposing than a piece of cloth with stars and stripes on it, and therefore they deserve a higher kind of honor and regard. If we stand with reverence before our flag, we surely should sit up and lean a little forward when our classmates are giving us the gift of their thoughts.
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