Today I began teaching about the life of Nathanial Hawthorne. In order for my students to get a full grasp of his context, I had to teach about the Salem witch trials. So I asked the general question: “According to you, what is a witch?” The answers came back: “Someone who uses magic,” and “A person that tries to harm people,” and other associations with negative things. However, some students were also mentioning that in some movies and books, witches are portrayed in a positive way too. Then I had to make sure that everyone understood how the Puritan society of Massachusetts would react to witches and witchcraft. Finally, it was time for a break. However, a student called me over before I could escape out of the room for cool and fresh air. I don’t remember the exact phrasing of the question, but it went something like this: “If gods and witches both use magic, how can people distinguish them?” It was a question that made me stop and think. I wasn’t really sure how to answer something like that. I answered with something about how the magic or power is used; that is, it a good or bad way. Some of my students continually surprise me, and it is never more apparent than in my fourth-year literature class. I like the way some of them think.


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