I delivered my most “brilliant” lecture early in my teaching career. My junior English class was reading Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and both the concepts and the language proved challenging. I, myself, was not a huge fan of this extended essay when I was in high school, but as I re-read it as an adult, I was fascinated by Emerson’s use of imagery to shed light on the complex spirituality of Transcendentalism.
I spent entire class periods passionately explaining Emerson’s ideas that matter was more a phenomenon than a substance and that god was not a separate entity above us, but a presence that permeated our being – I used student-friendly language and drew elaborate pictures and diagrams on the board. From where I was standing, the class watched in silent awe and admiration, dazzled by each pearl of wisdom I bestowed upon them. When it came time for the essay test, I watched in horror as students stared blankly at the questions before them – questions for which I had given explicit answers in my enthralling lectures over the previous week.