Monday, September 5, 2011
Monday Coffee: The Labor Day Edition
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?