In the classroom, a work of fiction—or nonfiction, for that matter—if brought in as a guest, has the capacity to unleash its energy into the collective psyche of the members in the room, to be amplified. Or like a beam through a magnifying glass, to gather the power to start a fire, to kindle something deep in the woody pulp of the soul, to fire it up, to create a reservoir of enthusiasmos. Enthusiasmos: a word used to convey the presence of the god within, often in the figure of Dionysos, such that learning occurs on a more advanced and vertical level and thereby gains a capacity to alter a human being. Sometime all one need do is notice innuendo, which can by itself be sufficient spark to ignite a forest fire.
The essay that follows is therefore more experiential than scholarly, in the sense that it is not preoccupied with mustering and mastering evidence from primary and secondary sources for either support or persuasive mucilage. Rather, I wish to muse in memory for a bit on what my experience of a good classroom experience consists of, what I have watched occur, and what conditions often coagulate to attend such a pole of pedagogy. The consequence of such a class are nothing short of miraculous; time and space themselves alter to accommodate and actually participate in the conversion through conversation. Converse is the Appian Way to such a change of heart.
-Dennis Patrick Slattery
An excerpt taken from the essay, “What White Whale Breaches? Classroom As Sacred Space” published in Reimagining Education: Essays On Reviving the Soul of Learning New Orleans: Spring, 2009, p. 92.
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