If you have not read Josh Gibbs’ article on classroom décor, do it. My teachers were blessed with training this week from one of our writing curriculum publishers and for us, the article could not have been timelier. Our trainer spoke of the necessity of hanging paper word lists on the walls for our students to create a “word rich” environment and object permanence. What to do? As a headmaster who never taught in grammar school, this can be difficult.
Creativity is the ability to bring about something new. Somewhat counterintuitively, structure, rules, and standards invite creativity. Aristotle, Plato, and the Scriptures tell us to “train up” a child. Aristotle, referencing Plato, emphasizes the importance of “having been definitely trained from childhood to like and dislike the proper things; this is what good education means” (Nicomachean Ethics Book 2, 1104b).
Have you ever seen football players fool around after losing a game—playing catch, running routes, general horseplay? Probably not. Such a thing is a sure sign they did not give everything they had during the game. It is a coach’s job to train his players through practice and virtue to leave everything on the field. The game is too important and demands such a level of respect that a player simply must give his best.
Our middle school students are memorizing Poe’s “The Raven,” one of the most well-known American poems, wherein the author grieves over his lost love, Lenore. I shared with my students an interesting facet of the poem: Poe’s refusal and dismissal of the supernatural. As Poe grieves for Lenore, he receives a visit from the spirit world in the form of a raven. Before acknowledging the raven’s identity, the poet reasons through a series of denials.