Musing One

Maybe 15 minutes a day here will provide some relief from this mind pain that is current consciousness.  I have these keys at my fingertips and somehow, in connection with my mind, I can communicate to myself, maybe others, in a way that I find to be quite miraculous.  When I teach composition, as I am doing now, probably for the last time ever, I try to get students into the groove I find so appetizing for myself and I think that if I can get them to but taste a little they will become gluttonous like myself for the kind of satisfaction that comes with communication of this kind, a linking up of ends and means, a coming together of desperate notions, bits of information, thought, emotion, plain old insanities that somehow become sensible in the context of a proper utterance, proper because it is genuine, genuine because no constraints are imposed and nothing really is to be achieved unless something is achieved because what gets fashioned in the ramble is good sense of some sort.

I do not succeed much in getting students to think.  Well, let me think that again because maybe I do because when they write in class, for a couple of minutes or more, they, almost all, put together strings of words that do say something about what they are thinking and when we stop and read aloud what we have written, they have something meaningful to say, often to their own surprise, something worth having other people hear, they knowing of worth by the reaction of those others within hearing range.  They surprise themselves, very often, with the intelligence that is captured in the words that have put to paper, deep stuff sometimes, wise stuff sometimes, complex stuff always, complex stuff that they are figuring out on the spot, in their minds, as they make phrases that are parts of sentences and sentences a part of making sense and all this because, even though they are writing for themselves they are wanting somehow to make themselves sensible to themselves, sensible in a way that is sensible to them and all of this incentive to get it down right, right shaping itself in the moment as they wrestle with words and their meanings and their meanings as they try to put them into words.

I feel for every course that I teach that I fail more than I succeed.  But in those short writing moments and their aftermath, I find delight, real delight because I think I have connected students with something too many of them do not know they have, individual intelligence of profound importance because it is so original, the words captures of moments of intellectual powers that they most often did not know they possessed but that, I have come to realize, all human beings possess because they are individuals and because, as human beings, they think as individuals in their individual ways.  Tap into that individuality, into the individual intelligence and something unique and wonderful is bound to appear, even if what is unique is representation of confusion, anger, disappointment, disillusionment, disgust, hate, prejudice, whatever nasty because expression of it is the beginning of thought about it and the way to resolution and revolution and reinstatement and re-repersentation; growth.

The papers my students write for grades are hardly ever as revelatory as those they write in those moments I offer them at the beginning of class and I think this is because they are trying to write papers rather than using writing to think about their thoughts about their meaningful encounters with life.  I think that the papers they write are the papers they were taught to write that have had to have little to do with feelings, with the emotional charge that comes with meaningful encounters with reality.  They write papers to get grades without thinking much about thinking and so the papers are without the emotional charge that comes with wanting badly to understand, to know, to figure out something that really needs to be figured out.

My courses are detox.  There is so much to rub away, push aside, eradicate.  Notions of expression and propriety.  Notions of the academic, of correctness, of structure without purpose, rules without understanding of the purposes they serve, without real understanding of how structure is only good, only reasonable if it serves good purpose, form as functional, function as purposeful and purpose the driver of all of the linguistic choices that help to make the act of communicating meaningful.

We never get there.  I have to be satisfied with not so much being enough.  Maybe it is, for them, truly a lot.

By lafered

Retired professor of education concerned with thoughtfulness

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