This morning I searched the etymology of “anticipate” since I, and many other teachers, are well and truly mired in it. I sometimes find comfort in the analysis and deepening in my understanding of a word, its connotations, derivations, and anatomy.
The Online Etymology Dictionary states,
1530s, “to cause to happen sooner,” a back-formation from anticipation, or else from Latin anticipatus, past participle of anticipare “take (care of) ahead of time,” literally “taking into possession beforehand,” from anti, an old form of ante “before” (from PIE root *ant- “front, forehead,” with derivatives meaning “in front of, before”) + capere “to take,” from PIE root *kap- “to grasp.”
I like the use of anticipation as a form of “taking care” rather than preventing; it is the hopeful sense of the word that I want to feel right now. And even though, there is anxiousness, undeniably, I did experience a sense of lightness return as I prepare a shell of a course, a shell of an evidence record of learning, both which may serve for any English course that any English teacher, including me, might be teaching. It’s liberating in a way, not being confined to one predetermined timetable as our school boards wrestle with the pandemic school plan. This educational freedom to step back from the specific content of the course is forcing me to focus on the much sidelined, more important approaches, more humane ways of building community, creating equity, and bringing social justice to the forefront of everything that I do.
Yesterday’s webinar with Dr. Robin Kay on Remote Teaching felt like the pulse of a defibrillator which converted my anxiety to anticipation. The workshop was an experience in meta-teaching; he taught a group of 80+ educators remotely while modelling for us what works and how to pace the content, keep engagement, and differentiate. All my previously scheduled afternoon plans evapourated as I fell into the tech vortex of experimentation trying Perusall, and Edpuzzle, and exploring shared websites from generous participants in the workshop. I returned to my former playful self full of curiosity rather than concern.
This state of not knowing what I’ll be teaching or specifically how I’ll be teaching has also allowed me to employ what Cornelius Minor refers to as”radical imagination”. I am creating a shell which radically imagines social justice, student voice, and a community of inquiry framework. The chaotic part of pandemic teaching has allowed me to break out of the prescribed English teacher’s “do this” list and, instead, forge ahead with ideas that I’ve allowed to be sidelined because they are seen as “woo woo” or “not effective” or “the latest trend” or “not rigorous enough”.
I returned to the online etymology dictionary and typed in “radical”.
late 14c., in a medieval philosophical sense, from Late Latin radicalis “of or having roots,” from Latin radix (genitive radicis) “root” (from PIE root *wrād- “branch, root”). Meaning “going to the origin, essential” is from 1650s. Radical sign in mathematics is from 1680s.
That’s it. The anticipation of teaching that has roots grounded in the individual student experience and identity which is essential to realizing one’s genius. There is a vision that I can anticipate and radically imagine for teaching this year.