It Takes Time

by Mr. Sheehy


I am always amazed, though not disappointed, at how long it takes to learn. I enjoy teaching non-AP classes because they are not so driven by the pace of the curriculum as the hyper-college prep courses. Here we are, my juniors and I, working on the Declaration of Independence for a second week. It sounds ridiculous, and maybe some of my colleagues smirk at my curricular choices, but itdoes not bother me, because I am convinced my students are learning something through the process.

I could have blown through the Declaration in a day, or less than a day, because it spans only three pages in our textbook; as a document, however, it spans two hundred years and stands as the cornerstone for a country. And mystudents, after a period or less, do not know what it says. So I take the time it takes to work through a difficult text and understand a little about what makes America unique.

I’m proud of my decision, obviously, but I do not look down upon those who choose not to stop for so long a gaze at a single document. Through the year I have to ignore more wonderful texts than I cover, and my students would often appreciate moving more quickly. But I cannot get past the idea that by teaching them a few texts well, I am helping to equip them to encounter other difficult texts, and their eagerness to move quickly is often a desire to avoid difficulty and struggle.

And so we limp through the Declaration of Independence and The Old Man and the Sea, and later we’ll limp through To Kill a Mockingbird and Edgar Allan Poe. And that’s fine with me, because when I learned to ski at Pat’s Peak, it took me years before I zoomed down the Race Trail.