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.