On The While of Things

  • David W. Jardine


What is it that makes classroom experiences worthwhile? This formulation hides too much of the deep etymological inheritances of such a question: what makes a classroom experience worth, not simply zero-sum school-grade exchange, but while? What makes some experiences worthy of rest and repose, worthy of returning, worthy of tarrying and remembering, of taking time, of whiling away our lives in their presence? These questions are framed, for me, as a way to think through some of the classroom work I have witnessed over several decades of attention to a specific phenomenon: how, in vigorous and intellectually challenging and pleasurable classrooms, time and memory gather together, both things and thinking accrue and return, and there is a sense of plenitude wherein the panics of schooling are cooled in favor of good, worth while work.