Thursday, March 25, 2010

Something about eating babies

I gave my students the option to choose one of seven different novels for senior English this year and I'm starting to wonder if I bit off more than I can chew. I think this group is independent enough not to need constant direct instruction-just today I was going to teach the pardoner's tale and gave up because a) I had already related the neat-o plot orally earlier in the year and b) they already know dramatic irony from Sophocles... so, instead I asked them to read something at random from the textbook and be prepared to tell the class about it... "pick something short." I'm so glad I did! They showed me so many cool pieces I'd overlooked, like Wole Soyinka's "Telephone Conversation" a prose-poem of sorts that rocks my socks. He wrote a book while wrongly imprisoned in Nigeria. It's called The Man Died: Prison Notes of Wole Soyinka. I hope to track down a copy soon. We also read some weird thing called "Two Sheep" by Janet Frame and this other thing by Harold Pinter. It was an authentic string of moments. So... I'm hoping I don't have to do too much hand holding during this novel unit. I might have trouble keeping all the books straight. I know I could teach Siddhartha and Angela's Ashes blindfolded... probably blindfolded while sitting in the lotus position. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone might be a little challenging because we're doing a book called The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter in addition... and I've been talking trash about being a Potter expert, so I better know my stuff there. As for The Road, 1984, and Crime and Punishment-they're new. I've never taught them. I read The Road in one sitting two years ago on a plane to Hawaii, so I'll have to re-read that one, obviously. One of my male students said, "We'll just watch the movie," to which I replied, "Good. If you can get through it without curling into the fetal position and sucking your thumb go for it... and it's less intense than the book in many ways. They don't eat a baby in the movie. The movie will "e-road" you from the inside out." Another male student said "If they eat a baby I'm not reading it." I give him a lot of credit. I'm ashamed to admit if I were in high school the promise of a baby-eating scene would have driven me to the page. That and I only read Crime and Punishment (at first) because of the axe murder. But hey, I've come a long way since high school... I have a baby now, and I don't think I'd eat him for anything in the world.


Anonymous said...

Nice concluding statement there John. I'm sorry (?) to admit that your mention of eating a baby HAS convinced me I should read the book. I thought I was a long way from high school...

John said...

I'd like to say honesty and youth go hand in hand, but I'm not sure that's the correlation. Either way I'm glad you decided to read the road. I noticed a lot of stuff the second time through that both impressed and disappointed me. Regardless, reading it again makes me want to go out in the garage and polish my socket sets... and I'll never think of giant squid in quite the same way.