Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Reality Check. Check!

At lunch today I felt a little bit tired and started dreading the trudge through the last two classes of my day. Poetry analysis with sixteen year olds. It's daunting, ok. Even though we're doing Sylvia Plath, my personal fave, it can still be a chore sometimes. So I took some time at lunch to peruse through some reading I've been meaning to do online and I came across this: Taught by a Terrible Disease, an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about my former professor, Dr. Elaine Smokewood. I've often said how her classes were literally life-altering (or mind-altering, more precisely). She taught me how to see literature, and in turn the world, in new ways. And I most vividly remember one class where we were tackling a particularly tough piece of poetry and she said, "We've got to gently press ourselves up against the poem and ask it to let us inside." And it was beautiful. And it worked. In the article she devalues the performance aspect of her teaching after having to do some soul-searching and losing her power of speech to ALS, but it worked in the classroom in 2002. It helped me learn. And it changed me. I can't even imagine what her students are learning from her now.

And now going into the last two classes of the day, I think I'll put the dread of the hard work of trudging through poems aside and try to inspire my students to want to learn. Because that's a lesson that stays with you for life.


tomorrowsmemoriesphotography said...

oh to be a little fly in your classroom :).