I’m battling with my “selves” right now; the Literature-loving English teacher and Innovative Teaching and Learning Leader are fighting for mind space. I’m going to sound like a confused wingnut in this post, but before I move forward into the world where technology is a daily part of my classroom practice, I need to give space to my concerns, my questions, and give voice to what I believe to be at the heart of English teaching.
I unashamedly believe that literature and the discussion of it should be at the core of every English classroom; all people need what stories can give. And, I believe that a significant part of my job as an English teacher is to open up young people’s minds through the exploration of it. In short, I believe in books. Paper. Face-to-face conversations. Time every day to unplug, silence and ignore the fast-paced cyber-world.
So, here is the battle: though I want to and will embrace technology and hopefully come to recognise when, how and why to incorporate it into my daily practice so as to enhance the learning that happens there, I simultaneously want to make sure that what I believe remains central to this journey. Right now I am questioning and questioning is not a synonym for being negative or dismissive—I need to live the questions in order to answer them. In writing that sentence I am reminded of Rainer Maria Rilke:
I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
Ok—Rilke, I hear you. I won’t search for the answers with a spot light. How about I just explore why I believe Art and Literature are important in a world of 42 character communication. And, how about I try to keep an open mind to the possibilities that new technologies afford. Let the journey begin.
As you began your post with the awkward, familiar battle between the known and the unknown you’re not sounding like a wingnut, but rather a learner. I’m so grateful you shared this battle, and the beautiful idea of ‘living the question’ along with the poignant quote from Rainer Maria Rilke. This quote juxtaposed against today’s ’42 character’ communication was jarring. It underscores why the mind space battle worthwhile. You are not alone in this exploratory journey, and questioning seems like the best way to start.
Wow! What a lovely, thoughtful reply! Thank you for taking the time to read and respond.
As a fellow lover of words on a paper page I commend you for trying to find a balance between your two selves, not letting go of one over another. In Margaret Atwood’s words, ” In the end we’ll all become stories”. All these stories whether on a page, in a voice, or on screen, will all have something to tell.