Thursday, October 3, 2013

Happiness, Outliers, and Finding Your Voice

For class, Friday, October 4th, we will meet in the MS Computer lab! 

Be ready to write your review - due Monday; however, please have a digital copy of your latest draft available.

Today in class, we broke from Beowulf to talk about big questions about education, the internet, and happiness. More on this later - in the meantime - check out my tweets @kob14 for what's been on my mind lately. One of the notions that has me thinking is how can we go beyond the generic five paragraph essay? What if we taught students to find their voice as writers? What if we turned students lose on the internet and embrace the information (including Sparknotes analysis) and move beyond plot summary? What if we stopped the charade that the internet didn't exist?

I want to learn with students and share my intellectual curiosity by modeling intellectual curiosity by confessing that I google everything. It's almost an affliction of sorts - I want to know the biography of the writer, hear his voice read his work, watch the documentary on her life, read that analysis of scholars as well as bloggers, and then arrive at my own conclusion - and appreciation of why study the writer. I find the study of literature fascinating because I find stories, history, writers, poets, critics, documentaries, films, life... all fascinating.

I want to sit at the Harkness table and feast on knowledge and insights like a pot-luck dinner where students bring their special dishes to the table. Some from grand mom, some from Harold Bloom, and yes even some from Schmoop. Let's get real. Let's stop playing games for little points. Let's be honest. Let's learn from one anther. And let's have fun doing it.

Forgive the Jerry Maguire mission statement-esque rant, but this has been percolating since I started teaching twelve years ago. At a new school, with many new observations, I want to grow as a teacher and inspire students and spark creativity and intellectual curiosity - not stress them and judge them. Let's continue this conversation.

So. Students, what do you think? I really want to know.

P.S. With gratitude, I want to thank all of you for your candid comments. I don't want this course to be a waste of your our time. I want you us to be happy and learn together. And yes, I want you to care about Beowulf and Jane Eyre, Virginia Woolf and South Park, or even South Park Grendel...

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