Workshop

This morning I had a chance to lead an unofficial Great Books workshop at my daughter’s school. I saw thoughtful, attentive, creative kids, plus their wonderful teacher, Diane. This was my first classroom teaching experience in eight years. This is what I felt happening in my head and chest before, during and after: the planning of the workshop was developing two train trestles: 1) the subject area (what stories/what skills should we cover?) and 2) the students (what experiences/what growth do we desire?). Then the train on the track: all aboard, are we listening to each other?; does everyone have a comfortable seat for this conversation?; is everyone sure what the next stop is?; how are we doing with our schedule, do we need to slow down or speed up?; is anyone pulling the emergency rope?; is that the engine or my heart clanging?; what are we seeing out those windows?; what are we noticing about each other inside this car?; who needs help?; who are the doctors onboard?; is the train conductor clear and concise?; is anyone else excited about that whistle?; are we picking up speed?; are we moving?; do you feel dizzy?; are we the same people that we were when we got on this train? And while we can all pretend that the rail itself has a fixed geography, shouldn’t we hop the tracks and do some off-tracking because of that great thing that he said or she said? Also, isn’t it frightening and wonderful to travel with students when the world is outside the car making all of those discoveries and grave errors and explosions and confusion and racket? And isn’t this an impossibly difficult job? And aren’t I grateful to my former teachers and to my friends who teach everyday? Yes.

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