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Imagination—the Elements of Teaching 7.3

A FERTILE IMAGINATION was Matthew Millstein's most notable attribute as a teacher. He approached the improvement of the writing skills of college freshmen with all the zest and enthusiasm of a seven-year-old attacking an ice cream sundae at a birthday party. Freshman comp, as it is familiarly known to faculty members and students alike, does not generally gladden
the hearts of those called to teach it (which is the reason, as someone once remarked, why God created graduate students); it has all the deadening qualities of the proverbial millstone (as our eponymous professor was well aware), and most of us prefer other forms of neckwear. But Professor Millstein loved his trade and brought a freshness and vitality to all his classes that aroused the envy-although, unfortunately, not the emulation-of his colleagues.

今天的故事主角是名叫Matthew Millstein的大学老师,他是位极具热情和想象力的老师。

It is well known that those most in need of help with their writing are those who most hate writing courses. They are also the ones for whom required writing courses are particularly designed. The challenge offered to teachers of mandatory writing courses- which might just as well be called "Learning to Love What You Most Detest-may therefore be unmatched anywhere else in the curriculum. Yet before his captive and resentful audiences, Matthew Millstein took up his challenge gladly and turned most of his ugly, illiterate frogs into articulate and handsome princes and princesses by semester's end. And he created such aesthetic models without kissing any of them.

他是教写作的。任何需要上写作课的学生都是写作极其不好的学生。但是Matthew却把用自己想象力的魔法这个丑青蛙变成了王子。

The magic was in the Millstein's imagination. As Dr. Millstein told his students when he first met with them, his vision of their future was of all of them as prolific and published authors. He told them about Michelangelo's facing a block of marble and chipping away the extraneous matter to discover the statue within. Like Michelangelo, he saw his task as removing whatever obstacles lay between his students and the improvement of their writing. "To find out what those obstacles are," he would declare, "I will need a sample from each of you. Nothing brief, mind you! Something multipaged and detailed, encompassing the kind of tricky subject matter you will be expected to write about in your other courses at this institution, whatever the major of your choice. And please fill your samples with as many errors, neologisms, spelling mistakes, syntactical monstrosities, and solecisms as possible. Give me your writing, like marble hacked from the quarry, and let me be the sculptor who uncovers the beauty beneath the surface."

他第一次见到学生就说,自己能想象学生的未来出色的作家。并把这个成就比喻为精致的雕塑,现在的学生是粗糙的大理石,但是他会帮助学生把这些多余的阻碍去掉。(也是很文艺了。)

Professor Millstein's conviction that all his students were destined to become accomplished writers meant that he was genuinely interested in what they wrote, no matter how inept, awkward, and ill-phrased their early efforts might be. His comments and criticisms were always encouraging, and he came close to entering into a continuing correspondence with each of them, even though his classes averaged some thirty-five students apiece. The self-assumed workload was of course backbreaking. He wrote many responses to his students' work by hand, but most of the time he preferred to use e-mail and encouraged his students to respond by the same means. These individual exchanges might occur two or three times a week.

他的这个比喻以为着他真的对学生的写作感兴趣,不管这个写作多么地糟糕。他给的评论都是鼓励性质的,并和学生E-mail交流。

Professor Millstein's classroom presentations of difficult subjects were always illuminated by his novel approaches-many of which he conceived and practiced by himself before using. In considering complex sentences, for instance, he would explain indirect speech and questions and clarify relative clauses. When he had covered these constructions, he would take up the other nine types of subordinate clause, those usually described as adverbial. In case students had difficulty remembering these, he had a little memonic verse ready for them: Come, Cuthbert, Cause Paul Pleasure; Tread Round a Roguish Measure!

他为了让学生更好记住从句,想了记忆口诀。

This nonsensical couplet gave his students the initial letters of the nine types of adverbial subordinate clause: conditional, concessive, comparative, purpose, place, time, result, reason, and manner. He taught about them, not because they were essential for everyone to know, but to illustrate the wonderful complexity of his beloved language. Yet his charges rarely forgot them -even the great majority who did not become writers.

他教学生这些口诀,并不只是因为他们必须知道从句,还是为了向学生呈现他喜爱的语言的美好。即使他们记不住,最后也没成为作家。

As well as writing for each other, the students in his classes were expected to write for publication, too. He encouraged them to send letters and other pieces to the student newspaper, and there were usually three or four each semester who had letters published in the local press. For texts in class, Professor Millstein often used newspapers and magazines to prompt his students to write for the public, and he set a model for them by showing them his own letters and articles when they appeared in various newspapers and magazines.

除了日常的写作,他还鼓励学生为了出版而写作。他鼓励学生给出版社寄稿件,每学期都会有三四人的作品被出版,这时候Matthew会把这些作为模范展示给学生看。

While Dr. Millstein's classes were orderly and his intentions clear,1. his instructional methods were frequently novel, and excitement was always in the air. Students never knew precisely what to expect; Professor Millstein would use any means to clarify a point of grammar or elucidate a problem of style. Wearing funny hats, singing and dancing, making up games for his students to play, attempting conjuring tricks, distributing candy as a reward for participation in class discussion-nothing seemed too much trouble or too ridiculous if it helped his students improve their writing skills. 2.Because he was consistently serious in his purposes, none of these gimmicks detracted from his authority as a teacher. 3.In fact, he was held throughout the campus in great respect because these methods indicated to others that he was putting additional time and effort into his teaching.

1.他的教学方法总是充满新奇,学生永远不知道上课会有哪些精彩的元素。
2.当然,因为他知道自己的教学目的,这些看似花哨的游戏或活动从来都不会跑题,他依然有老师的权威。
3.事实上,整个学校的人都很敬重他,因为他的这些各种各样的教学方法形式说明他花了很多的时间和精力在自己的教学上。(正常的备课只有正常的效果。想要额外的效果,就要有额外的付出。)

Quick to anticipate students' reactions, Professor Millstein also had a reputation as something of a mind reader; he seemed able to predict questions, forestall complaints, and prevent difficulties almost before they had arisen. He attributed this talent to the fact that he had a strong recollection of his own years as a student; he was always ready to relate his own confusion and ineptitude in those far-off days for the instruction of his classes.

他也会提前预测到学生会遇到的困难,问题,疑惑。他觉得这是因为他会根据自己之前做学生的经历来看待这件事。(站在学生的角度考虑。)

"In high school," he would tell them, "my writing was so awful that when I asked my English teacher what I should write on, she told me privately that she thought one side of an index card would be quite sufficient."

"Another time I asked my teacher what I could do to improve my writing. He sat there thinking for such a long time that I began to think he hadn't heard my question, but then, with a smile on his face, he uttered one word: 'Incineration.' "

他会说"在我上学的时候……"(是的,我发现每次我这么说话,学生就会很感兴趣地看着我;当然,我现在是学生,我的老师这么说话我也会很饶有兴致地看着他。)

Not all his recollections of his student days were frivolous,however. He conveyed his struggles with split infinitives and dangling participles and his early confusion over metaphor, so easily used to excess. He taught his students how to moderate the use of metaphors so that they would be effective weapons rather than two-edged swords. While his students laughed at his recollections of his youthful indiscretions, they were learning to avoid those same pitfalls themselves. "All right, David," he would exclaim, directing his remarks at a lounger in the back row. "What is wrong with this sentence: He threw his eyes around the room and nailed them on the door?" And David would gather himself together and address the egregious mixing of metaphors.

当然他也会回忆自己挣扎学习得到的经验教训,并传递给学生。

Such was the force and ingenuity of Dr. Millstein's imagination that his students had to race to keep up with him. But no matter how difficult they found this challenge, somehow they always managed to succeed and, in the process, wrote more readily, more intelligibly, and more accurately. After twenty years of teaching, Professor Millstein was able to produce a long list of former students who had gone on to careers in writing, because he imagined them as professional writers long before any of them had learned from him how to write an intelligible and error-free sentence.

就是因为Matthew的这种强迫学生学习的想象力,他的学生不得不追赶上他。但是不管挑战多大,学生们总是能够做到。20年教学生涯过去了,他已经能够理出很多如今从事写作的学生的名字了,因为他之前就想到这些人会成为专业作家。

读后感:也不仅仅是想象力,更多的是有了想象力之后要去执行。其实还是那句话,"有想法的人很多,做事的人太少",现在大家的想法多着呢,叽叽喳喳生怕别人不知道,但是真正去执行得太少啦。那些真正去执行的,就做成了。

Imagination—the Elements of Teaching 7.3
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