Slice of Life Tuesday- Stepping Into the Unknown With Curious Writers

 A Step Into the Unknown

During my almost six years living and working in New York, I regularly traveled on the subway system. The experiences provided a rich vein of stories and recollections. Everyday brought new insights and helped me deepen my understanding about life and learning in this iconic place. Those times continue to impact upon my thinking and my writing life.

I recall among my many trips, one particular occasion at Essex Street subway interchange. I was walking up the extended stairway when a small girl and her mother appeared at the very top of the stairs.

As the girl and her mother descended, I noticed the girl had her eyes tightly closed. Her mother held the the child's right hand for support as they managed the steps. At first I found myself puzzled by the girl's action. Then it occurred to me that she had closed her eyes to experience the sensation of walking down the stairs unsighted. Simple as that. She was experimenting. The fact that she had her mother’s support gave her the confidence to take a step into the unknown.

At that moment she became a risk taker- attempting something new and different.

This brief scene reminded me of the responsibility a teacher faces each time he or she enters a classroom. Supporting students to try new and different things, to become risk takers, to think, dream and above all succeed. It’s part of that journey towards becoming an independent, self directed learner.

As I talked to a group of teachers yesterday at Red Hill Consolidated School about fostering risk taking within student writers, I found myself recalling the subway scene yet again. It was fleeting, yet nonetheless, memorable. 

Close your eyes for a moment and consider what is possible with the right amount of support. You and your students may take that vital step to discovering your shared potential as curious learners.


  1. Thanks for sharing that powerful image and your thoughts about risk taking. I wish I'd been able to attend your workshop!

    1. A pleasure Molly. It would have been a long way to travel. Thanks for the thought.

  2. Learning should be a partnership with each side gently supporting the other. I think it goes both ways -- The teacher supports the students' journey, but the students also show the teacher where they need to go. The important thing is to pay attention so you don't miss these clues. Thank you for your words today, Alan!

    1. Your words are so true Jennifer. It is very much reciprocal in nature. Thanks for dropping in and for your wise words.

  3. What a great risk-taking example to observe and share with us.

  4. Thanks Bonnie. It does hit the mark.

  5. I'm so glad I read your post today. Thank you for sharing this risk taking story with us. If we want our students to become life long independent, self directed learners, we need to be right there learning alongside of them. Showing them that together we're learners.

  6. I find myself in furious agreement with your comments Jen. Thank you for taking the time to comment.


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