It’s hard for me to read a book or an article without trying to make a connection to a greater picture or concept that I have tried to teach or may have to teach in the near future.
Reading for pleasure is rare for me because after teaching for 5 years, I am always reaching and attempting to provide meaningful learning experiences or have meaningful connections with students. So even as I was reading Hunger Games for the first time, I was thinking how that book could have fit into our studies of Ancient Civilizations if I had started the year with that book rather than the ones I did.
I call it teacher brain. The state of mind where you are constantly planning, self-reflecting and wondering how you can engage students, but this state is rare for teachers because they are plagued down with mandates to have students sign plagarism statements and meeting with students who have plagiarized a paper, which made Mark Twain’s take all the more meaningful.
Still, this fear of unoriginality — and, at its extreme, plagiarism — plagues the creative ego like no other malady. No one has countered this paradox more eloquently and succinctly than Salvador Dalí:
Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.
See if we relieve ourselves as teachers and our students as writers of being original, then we are freeing them to be themselves and express themselves, which is the most important skill we can teach any student.