I recently responded to a blog post by one of my students compalining about seniuoritis and the lack of relevancy our AP Lit course had for him. He wanted to be working on his reume and reading worls news instead. This is an excerpt from my response:
I believe with my entire being that the most important thing for us as human beings to do is to love each other. However, there is no BA degree in love and no course in a high school to teach called Love 101. The closest thing I found was literature. Through literature we broaden our human experience, we engage in moral struggle, we reflect on our own choices as we experience those made by others. This allows our hearts to grow capable of compassion and kindness beyond what our individual experiences could ever provide. And, at the same time, we are able to be provoked and soothed by the artistry of literature, by the crafting of a text. To say literature is pointless is to say all art is pointless. Then, imagination and dreams are not far behind. Why bother with pretend? Let’s read the newspaper and build our resumes! If all we do is live in the now and the real, how do we ever grow? I’m sorry, but a world without possibility is not the world I want to live in.
In a recent department meeting, we were discussing a chapter from Marzano’s The Art and Science of Teaching on developing positive relationships with students. In the chapter, he encourages emotional objectivity and viewing students primarily as young learners. The advice I usually give to new teachers is different. I often tell them that their students are people first, students second.
I don’t know how anyone does this job without love at the very core of their practice. Love of their subject and love of their students. When you have that, the magic happens.