Tuesday, September 09, 2008

DAY 2, September 9

A metaphor for the day...
This afternoon a gusty thunderstorm swirled across the campus, turning my classroom into a cool and shadowy cave. I might have thought the scholars would react excitedly to the sudden change – grow restless, gaze out the windows, whisper in wonder to their friends – but strangely, nothing like that happened. The kids went about the business of English class just as if the weather hadn’t swiftly altered from sunshine to darkness and rain. They hardly noticed. It was just the weather, after all.
Perhaps the weather would be a good metaphor for English class. Things constantly change during my classes: disappointment and frustration arrive almost as steadily as success and contentment. Like the weather, nothing is ever a sure thing in my classes – nothing is absolutely secure, set in a stone, unalterable. Like we do with the unpredictable weather, all we can do in English class is continue doing our best work, come sunshine or storm.
I was impressed with several comments by 8th graders in class. One quiet girl came up after class (during which I had read a poem aloud) and asked me, point-blank, if I liked older poets or modern ones. I was surprised because she didn’t preface her remark with some kind of introduction, the way many young people would, like “Excuse me Mr. Salsich, I was thinking about what you said about the poem you read, you know, the poem about being lost, and I wondered if you like poets who are writing right now, or maybe the poets who lived a long time ago.” No, this girl simply said, “Do you like modern of older poets?” I was struck by her straightforward -- and very polite -- manner.
Several kids made what I thought were brilliant comments during a discussion of a quote by Jack London. It was a profoundly enigmatic passage (I thought), but these 13-year-old scholars saw into the heart of it. I was quite astonished.

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