Archive for May, 2010

“What’s important about education is not what the students know when they leave our class, but what they want to learn on their own.”  Dr Brady Peterson

Brady is my English Department chair at UMHB and although several decades separate us in age, I believe that we are kindred spirits who view our jobs in the same way.  We love literature and writing.  We love our students.  We want our students to love literature and writing.  Simple.  End of story.  So one day as we were discussing my lack of a PhD (for the twentieth time), university politics, and the best way to teach students poetry, he said the above quote.  I immediately put it in my phone so that I wouldn’t forget it.  When I remarked on its brilliance, he quickly noted that he was probably plagiarizing some one else. Nevertheless, words perfectly encapsulate my feelings about education. 

We’ve all heard someone say that “Education is a life-long process.”  I have always believed it to be true; but as a teacher, sometimes I question my role in that process.  Now I realize that if I am doing my job well, my students will want to learn beyond the walls of my classroom.  Because of a Billy Collins poem, they may want to read something by Emily Dickinson.  Because they read a Louise Erdrich short story, maybe they will want to read her latest novel.  Because they got some good comments on an essay, maybe they will begin their own blog.  Perhaps the seed that was planted in Freshman English will grow into a life-long love affair with learning. 

On his final exam, one student wrote: “I loved your class, not so much for the English you taught us, but because of the life lessons we learned from the reading and discussions.”  At the end of a semester, that is all the validation I need.


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