Sunday, May 16, 2010

Speaking of Boxes

My classroom is a box
If I were teaching math
I'd call it a rectangular
prism - but it's just a box
for teaching and learning

My dilemma now is
telling my students
to be themselves
and then minutes later
telling them to conform

What am I modeling
for them? I encourage
autonomy and then I
assert my authority

No wonder they're confused
even though I know
confusion is a good place
from which to begin learning

Is it a balancing act
one box in each hand?
one of reason and one of emotion
Or is it one big box
that is our burden?
What to put in and what to take out
our primary concern.

If the classroom is
that one big box
then what is our responsibility
in that shared space?
What do we add?
What do we take away?

And our houses and apartments -
what of those boxes?
And the blocks we live on?
The grids we drive on?

Maybe I'm just as confused
as my students.
Perhaps the box is
the wrong metaphor
for the classroom
too static
too linear
limiting rather
than expansive

I should have recycled the box
and moved on to real geometry
measuring the world
and talked of spheres

* * * * *

This poem was inspired by the boxes prompt at We Write Poems.


  1. The ending is such a break out both the recycling and "talking of spheres". Nice work.

  2. Irene, thank you for your comment. I had a hard time coming up with an ending for this poem. It wanted to go so many different places, I had to wrestle with it a bit.

  3. You've aptly described the conundrum of teaching. The ending works for me.

  4. Jules and marginalia,
    Thank you both for your comments. I was surprised where a prompt on boxes took me. I'd glad you liked the poem.