I'm back to full-time teaching after a glorious summer of full-time writing. Yesterday was the third day of classes at Marianopolis College -- and I thought I'd use today's blog entry to share a moment that felt especially meaningful (it gave me goosebumps -- if you know me, you'll know I get goosebumps when something important and beautiful happens... it's a handy trait if you're a writer).

You may be wondering what a photograph of Maurice Sendak's tiny picture book, Pierre, is doing at the top of this blog entry. Well, I'm about to explain that to you. On the first day of all my classes this semester, I decided to read Pierre to the students. If you don't know the book, you should read it ASAP (no matter your age). And if you know the book, you'll know that the moral of the story is: CARE. I told my students that, if they care about learning, they'll learn more and have more fun at school. I even suggested they try CARING in the classes they find most boring (hopefully, not mine!!).

Well, this is what happened yesterday -- in my Introduction to College English class, I asked the students to reflect on the kinds of activities and attitudes that help us learn. Someone remembered that last week, we had talked about REPETITION (for example, when students go over their notes after class it helps them remember what they learned). Someone else mentioned CURIOSITY, which we had also discussed the previous week. And then a student named Justin (I'm pretty sure it was Justin), said, "CARE!"

Ohhhh that made me so happy -- and gave me goosebumps. Though it is my 32nd year in the classroom, I had one of those eureka moments: it's the combination of CURIOSITY and CARING that makes magic happen. By magic, I mean LEARNING, but also GROWING.

We discussed this a little more in yesterday's class. If CURIOSITY involves the intellect, I asked the students, where does CARING come from?

And of course, they knew the answer: the heart or the emotions.

So magic happens when we put those two forces -- the brain and the heart -- together.

I'd never thought of learning (and living) this way before. So you see, even an old teacher can learn new tricks. Thanks to Justin, and the rest of his class, for this lovely lesson.

I told the students they're privileged to be able to attend school, and especially a great school like ours... but I also told them I'm privileged to be their teacher.

Here's to a great schoolyear for all of us!