As I stared up into the dark the other morning, up before the alarm again, and already dwelling on the coming day and the need to fit everything on my to-do list into the day, my mind turned to the idea that good teachers and good preachers have the same skill set: an ability to energize and motivate their particular congregation into action, to move them from point A to point B with as little resistance as possible and to guide them to a higher plane of existence: enlightenment.
Monotone droning doesn't do that.
No, like a good Baptist or Pentecostal preacher, if I want action, I have to be dynamic and energized. Have you ever tried to whip a group of 25 students into a frenzy of excitement over writing papers? It's no easy task, and to do it class after class, well, if preachers had to preach session after session, they might wear out of the righteous power of spreading the word.
The word--words--strung into tightly constructed works of art, that's the dream. Competent, effective communication skills are the goal. It's easy to forget when you spend your spare time online in a group of people who write to communicate for fun that not everyone finds the endeavor rewarding. Spending time with students who are intimidated by the very idea of constructing those words on the blank word document is an immersion in the reality that words, ideas, and the organization of those ideas into words, into paragraphs, is incredibly intimidating to many people.
And that's a shame. Words open the world, and what a world it is. What a world it can be, if only. So I spend my days trying to give students "if onlys" in as energetic and entertaining a way as possible, while letting them know that panic, fear, and mental roadblocks don't have to be the way that English classes are approached.
Something's wrong with our educational system if it churns out students afraid to try, resistant to effort, and certain their teachers don't care about them succeeding. If preachers managed their congregations that way, they'd be out of a job.
Maybe if teaching was viewed as a sacred trust, and the resources were provided to make sure that teachers had the opportunity to restore and feed their souls, and parents viewed teachers like preachers, there to assist and help, maybe so many students wouldn't come to us closed off, shut down, and resistant (and I mean that, not just for college teachers, but all the way down to the beginning of school).