Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A New Spin on Awesome

In the throes of research paper grading, it is hard to imagine using that word to describe anything. As I bang my head against the 456th comma splice, I am challenged to remember what it even means...and how it can possibly apply to my life.

Then a light clicks on in a student brain....light beaming from the ears...a passion forms...a fire starts....

The students in English 104 are there...they are where they need to be....finally....and they got their on their own; they got there by being curious, by being frustrated, by, um, learning to think independently.

The easiest way to teach is to spoon feed. I could just tell them the answers...but what fun would that be? How will they use that skill (being spoon fed) in their lives? They have already mastered it, truly. I give them the answers...they spit them out on an exam or in an essay. This is the way they were trained.

It is awesome to see them come to grips with what they don't know; it is awesome to see them struggle through their beliefs...wading through mush...drifting through clouds of the ideas they have never considered...teaching becomes an awesome vocation.

The word awesome has been tainted by the valley girls, and, in this sense, I don't mean it in the OMG...that is, like, omg soooo awesome! In this case, I mean it in its literal sense. The lights turning on, slowly but surely, are awesome...and I am in awe of their abilities and the struggles that helped them get there.

I had the excellent fortune to travel to a New England boarding school this week and meet a group of dedicated people working toward the same goal of student self reliance. Evidence surrounded me at every turn that these kids were not part of the "feed me" generation...they are independent thinkers...they are creative...they are passionate...they serve others. The experience was awesome in that non-valley girl way.

We are blessed to be part of that process.

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