Thursday, September 29, 2011

Alice In Wonderland - a lot to say about teaching

       I've been re-reading Alice In Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, which I do every couple of years.  It seems to me that it has something of value to learn for us teachers.  What Carroll says, in several ways, is that we have to be flexible, look for serendipitous moments to enjoy, and just quit worrying so much about doing things perfectly.  I refer today to one set of words from chapter five:    

       "Who are YOU?" said the caterpillar.
          This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation.  Alice replied, rather shyly, "I--hardly   
        know, sir, just at present--at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must  
        have been changed several times since then."

    When we enter the classroom each day we have spent time thinking and planning with great concern for our students.  We watch them as they enter, welcoming, but also, in our minds, questioning.  
   We ask: 
         How does he look? 
         Why does she frown? 
         Does she have the work she forgot yesterday? 
         What are the words I can use to support him since his dad is out of work?  
         How can I find time for him to do some computer work since he doesn't have one at home?  
         When can she do that needed interview since she takes care of her younger siblings all evening?  
         He looks so tired;  did he get to eat breakfast?  
         Why is she not walking in with her friends?
         Where did he go?  I thought he walked in, but now he's gone back into the hall.
         I saw her slam out of the car this morning;  I wonder what happened with her mom? 

     And then we teach.  Lewis Carroll seemed to understand kids so well.  As Alice did, I think our students change several times during the day, week, month.  It's up to us to notice, respond, and teach.  I wonder if Carroll knew how challenging that is?


  1. I know this feeling. Our kids have live outside of our classroom - some of which they share, some of which they can't/won't, some of which they don't even "get" yet. But...all of it affects what they do once they walk through those doors. I often feel each of my sixth graders morphs this way and that through the course of a single week - the only thing that remains constant is my vision of where I want to take them as learners and people in the year I have them in my room. I love that passage from Alice!

  2. Your post hit a nerve with me this morning. Thanks for sharing...


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