edu180atl emily anderson 11.4.2011
This morning, as I sat amid my ten bubbly, YouTube-entranced ninth grade advisees during homeroom, I was surprised by the appearance of tears at my door. One of my brightest and most conscientious students stood there, anxiety reverberating from her body as tears began to well. We scooted out into the hallway where, after a quick hug, she explained to me that with six tests and a project over a period of just a few days, she just wasn’t prepared to give her presentation in my class.
Although we quickly came to an arrangement that seemed to bring a bit of relief, the image of this diligent, focused young woman, overwhelmed to the point of tears with schoolwork, popped into my mind again and again today. The high school years are bound to present academic and emotional challenges at any rigorous educational institution. Still, our conversation was a reminder not only of how harried our modern, urban lives can be—whether we are balancing tests and projects, or jobs and families—but also the incongruence of pushing our students to be creative producers and higher-order thinkers when they are often just trying to surmount the next test on the syllabus. This student’s regrettable anxiety became a poignant reminder for me that a slower tempo just might be a crucial component for the authentic, creative learning we are all striving to provoke.
Emily teaches humanities at a private school in Atlanta. She is amazed that she found a career in which she gets paid to tell great stories and talk about literature every day.