Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Coffee: The Labor Day Edition

What Are People For?

That's the title of a book by Wendell Berry, and also a very good question. Despite an overwhelming emphasis in our society on consumption of all kinds, I'm pretty certain that's not what I'm here for. It seems I'm here for the children (the tallish ones), and also for the stories. All summer I was daydreaming about a life that involved sitting in a cabin writing books. And then the school year started, and that fantasy got wiped out by the compelling reality of the students in front of me.

There is no way I can explain what it is like to have your life so completely taken over by this passion that is also, let's admit it, a burden. There are many times when I hear the political rhetoric about teachers and schools, and I want to find some other profession-it can be that demoralizing.

But when you are teaching and in flow (that magnificent, euphoric sensation when time disappears) there is no better profession. There is no profession so funny and so heartbreaking and so all-encompassing and so pitiless and so pitiful.

So that's where I am right now. Reading, yes, but mostly obsessively reading stuff that I'm teaching, or stuff that I think will make me a better teacher, or stuff that might help my students.

I'm about halfway through the utterly fascinating Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions by James W. Pennebaker. There is a whole stack of writing related books on my nightstand, and anything to do with writing or the teaching of writing feeds my mania. For those of us who are driven to turn everything, especially trauma, into a written story, Pennebaker's book explains why there is healing power in doing so.

On Friday I read with my students (silent sustained reading is golden). Keith Cronin's Me Again was my book, and I tore through it in two days. My review will be posted on September 13th.

Much of Saturday was spent reading Dave Maine's Gamble of the Godless, which I am thoroughly enjoying. This is a book available only as an ebook-an epic sci-fi fantasy with great characters.

Tomorrow is Tuesday, which will leave me confused all day long. My students will be having Socratic Seminar on Cry the Beloved Country, and I will be trying to enter grades for all the papers I am grading at my kitchen table. What will you be doing?


bermudaonion said...

I hope you have a wonderful school year.

bibliophiliac said...

@bermudaonion-I'm planning on it!

Grad said...

God bless good teachers. Both good and bad teachers have profound influence on the future. I was fortunate, both for myself and for my children, that most of the teachers with whom I have crossed paths have been the good ones. I remember with affection my lively 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Badalatto, who sang "Getting To Know You" to us our first day in her class, my Seventh Grade teacher, Sr. Wilbert, a nun who so loved Isreal, the Jewish people, and Martin Luther King that she instilled in me the same lifelong loves, and my wonderful college professors. Too many teachers to mention. Next to my parents, they shaped the person I was to become as no one else ever could. I don't even know if they ever realized how their love of teaching spilled out into the classroom and baptized the young minds of their students with a lifelong desire to learn. Bravo, teacher!