Academic journal article English Journal

For the Group under the Table

Academic journal article English Journal

For the Group under the Table

Article excerpt

That day, I'd scattered the class into groups

to discuss the pages they'd been assigned to read

the night before in Achebe's Things Fall Apart.

I circled the room to eavesdrop, kibitz, encourage;

stopped at one table to answer a question, another

to pose one,

sat at a third to exult in the insight of a normally

quiet boy.

When I stood, though, something seemed missing.

I soon saw: the group in the back corner had


Amanda and Christine, Shannah and Carolyn.

My head on a swivel, I started a search mission,

but the mystery proved easy to solve.

Those four had decided to meet under their table.

Circled together on the old rug of the classroom,

backs curved, cross-legged, knees touching,

huddled up with their books in their hands,

they were earnestly sharing whatever they'd found

in that spare and disquieting book.

I knelt down to join them, awkward in size and


and thought, I can't get down under there.

They're flexible; I'm not. Plus it's not my place.

So I threw my voice from above: "How's it going

down there?"

"Great," one quickly answered. Another needed to


"It's less noisy down here, Mr. G. We can


Stiffly, I rose, and left the group under the table

discussing the story, its hero's hard heart, the


of all hearts, themselves-hunkered down where a

teacher can't go. …

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