Tuesday, November 22, 2005

No Thinking—Just Writing

That’s my new mantra. It’s odd, I know, and sort of off-putting when you first read or hear it. But I’ve been teaching over twenty years now, and it’s many the time I’ll turn to kids and ask why they aren’t working.

“I’m thinking.”

In Herman Hesse’s novel, Siddhartha writes “Writing is good. Thinking is better.” Doubtless he’s right.

But what is it, actually, that my students are thinking about? They’re thinking about how many minutes before the bell rings, or if the girl across the room likes them, or about whether they’ll visit their uncle this weekend, or why the classroom is always either too hot or too cold (I often wonder about that one myself).

They’re thinking about whether or not the teacher will let them keep thinking until the bell rings, so they can shuffle off to the next class and think some more.

I’m a slow learner, I guess, but kids thinking about what to write are few and far between. I apologize to them in advance.

From now on, my unfortunate students will have to do their extra-curricular thinking on their own time. In my class, they will write.
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