ETHOS

ETHOS

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bruises

This year has been great! I know, it's only been three days and I'm acting like a neophyte, but having the advanced students at the beginning of the day really helps set the tone. I always tell my last period they better be my best class because if I go home mad I'll kick my dog. They always laugh like someone is punching them in the gut, which is, I suppose, the kind of laugh I'm the best at getting.

Who welds a balance beam perpendicular to the playground exit? Kids fall down. This is how my kindergarten playground was set up. It makes me wonder... I'm not teaching fiction writing this year and my lunch is at 9:55 am, yet I feel good.

I hope to teach some new titles this year. Among them are Grimm's Fairy Tales, Dubliners, and Crime and Punishment. I asked the advanced students to respond to 10 statements on the first day. The results were a lot of fun and inspired some discussion.


1. Humanity is a brief pulsation in the black hole of eternity

-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5
Strongly Disagree Strongly Agree

2. Learning about human suffering is not important because it teaches us nothing about ourselves.

-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5
Strongly Disagree Strongly Agree

3. The courses of our lives are dictated by chance.

-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5
Strongly Disagree Strongly Agree

4. I alone exist.

-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5
Strongly Disagree Strongly Agree

5. Dignity is an essential element to a fulfilling life.

-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5
Strongly Disagree Strongly Agree

6. Murder is always wrong.

-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5
Strongly Disagree Strongly Agree

7. Disney is the highest authority on Earth.

-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5
Strongly Disagree Strongly Agree

8. Society is just one way humanity combats the darkness inherent within the individual.

-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5
Strongly Disagree Strongly Agree

9. Thinking about the past and/or the future is a waste of time.

-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5
Strongly Disagree Strongly Agree

10. The printed word still matters.

-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5
Strongly Disagree Strongly Agree

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back to School


















As I've said before, I've had a hard time reading and writing this summer, with the exception of the poem that bled out the other night, I've hardly written anything. Part of me thinks I deserve the time off after writing Mark's story, but another part of me, the mean one with the implements of medieval torture, has been whispering that I'm wasting time, what talent I have, and as well as the few ideas I've had.

With school looming ahead, I'm sad for the end of summer, as I've been able to finish some home improvement projects and spend time with Wyatt. I'm glad for the promise of structure (however mind-numbing) and the stimulus of meeting a bunch of new teenagers and seeing some old faces. But I will miss the little face peeking over the crib rail every morning.

The first task of preparing for a new year is to revamp sylllabi. Since I will only be teaching two preps, Advanced British and World, and American Literature, I hope to take the time and rehaul them completely. Starting the year with The Catcher in the Rye has worked very well with American Lit students in the past, and I plan to do the same thing this year. Last year, due to a challenging sixth period class I devised twenty or so bellwork journal responses for The Catcher in the Rye that worked well and were a lot of fun. The intent was not only to focus their attention after lunch, but to try and make the book more relevant to today. I'll post some of these journal prompts as soon as I can re-open them, and in the meantime I'm going to consider my starting place with the advanced students. It's always difficult, and I don't know why. Beowulf is a logical starting place, but I spend more time on Gardner's Grendel anyway, and that can be an off-putting book due mainly to its philosophical nature, and the year I started with Plato and Aristotle went badly, much less Sartre and Hume. So, last year we started with Oedipus, which seems logical to me. It's a difficult play to teach, and I have trouble myself discovering why it's such a masterpiece. I prefer Antigone, myself. It seems less like pantheon propaganda and more like a story with real heroism, conflict and sorrow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Evolution

The house is finished. Well, we still need to have the gutters and downspouts hung, but that probably won't happen until next week. In the mean time, I'm going to post some before and after pictures of the siding.