Time to Think by Nancy Kline is a rather excruciatingly-written book – too much bright-eyed American Positive Thinking-speak for my jaundiced European eyes (apologies to my North American readers…) – but it nonetheless contains some interesting ideas. I am reading it in small doses in order to avoid being sick.
Kline spent some time as a teacher. In a chapter about creating thinking space, she relates one experience that particularly resonates with me:
‘I remember walking into [my headmaster’s] office one afternoon during my first year in teaching. He had asked to see me because he had had a complaint from parents of one of my English students…
He leaned back in his chair and said, “Mrs. Andrews called me. She thinks you are corrupting her daughter by teaching D.H.Lawrence….What do you think?”
I made my university-graduate defence of great literature…When I had finished I looked at him with a large amount of twenty-two year-old first-job fear.
And he stunned me. He said gently…”I don’t care which books you teach as long as you remember one thing. The students are learning you. They will forget about D.H. Lawrence. But you and your life they will remember. Be sure you like what they are learning. Go back to work. I’ll handle Mrs. Andrews”…’
I’m at the stage of my career when I’m teaching the children of former pupils. Sometimes I meet the parents at school functions. The “Do you remember when…?” moments are rarely about what we studied in lessons – always about the ‘other things’ that defined those relationships.
So in the final reckoning, I teach me – through Geography (important though that is) – to children, of course. I hope it’s good.