Thursday, April 23, 2009

The joys of learning

In the midst of a busy and stressful time of the year, I had such an experience of joy and satisfaction today--one of those this-is-why-I-do-it and this-is-what-keeps-me-going.

For the first time, I am teaching Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World in all three middle school grades (6th, 7th, and 8th). The sixth graders have just finished reading about Richard the Lionhearted and John Lackland. In my year plan that I spent hours on this past summer, I had inserted Thomas Aquinas at this point in history also. To cover Aquinas, we read the wonderful chapter-length story about his life in Mindy Withrow's book Monks & Mystics, part of Withrow's church history for young people series. The next day, I made a notebook page for Aquinas' life with review questions. The paragraph was succinct with accessible information, yet splashed with some new words. The students had heard these words used but had never read them in print. It is a teacher's thrill to see the student's countenance brighten when he sounds out the word enough to realize it is that word he's heard before. Then, it is that moment when the young mind is ripe to remember when the teacher can tell him what that word means.

Words of wonder today: heresy, intellectual, Dominicans, and cloister.

Thees little diamonds in the rough brought satisfaction to me today. I found myself remembering, like Michelangelo, "I am still learning." Yes, I do love learning. And I love to see my students begin to see connections. Little glimpses of the beginnings of their own life of learning.

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