I deeply feel that we in teaching are in the midst of a profound shift in education from the mind (the science of teaching) to the heart (the art of teaching). We are learning, and quickly now, to rely more on the web of connection that exists among all of us in the classroom than on anything else.
Circling is a good example, perhaps, of how we often become too focused on the method, the science of TPRS. We think that there is a science of circling when, in truth, I have found it to be a highly intuitive process. I think we should focus more on the web of goodness even more than circling.
Of course, we must learn the basic order of questions in circling, and I strongly agree that we must learn how to alternately circle subject, verb and object. But when it comes down to it, after we have taken off our circling training wheels, we must rely on our intuition and our sense of curiosity and discovery and wanting to have fun.
If we are in heart connection with our students, the circling will naturally be right, because the heart is more powerful than the mind, which even Blaise Pascal, a supreme intellect, knew. Then we won’t need to make circling into some kind of herculean mental task. Some of us turn the method into a veritable tar baby. If the reader can accept the word herculean and tar baby in the same paragraph….
So if we can somehow forget about the pacing guides (see the “About TPRS” and “Thoughts on Pacing Guides” links on this site), and when we are teaching just open up to the kids and their treasure trove of magical, striking, and often unbelievable ideas, the love so generated in fun and pleasant discussion will dictate our classes flawlessly. This method gives us a chance to be happy in our classrooms and we should go for it not just for ourselves but for our students.
I like to think that we can actually bring happiness into our classroom, echoing Stendhal’s definition of happiness that I love to read and reread and quote and requote because it, to me, forms the essence of all storytelling. Stendhal’s definition of happiness is:
Un bavardage sans détour et la présence de ceux qu’on aime…/
An endless conversation and the presence of those one loves…
We don’t need ultra fancy stories to get us high batting averages because of all the home runs we hit. We just need the capacity to relax and enjoy the kids, which is a capacity of the heart.