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Showing posts from November, 2010

Why We Read or Yes, You Have to Read This

I am something of a classicist when it comes to literature, and this recently has been a subject of debate among not only my department, but English departments across the country. Is there truly a benefit to students in reading the so-called "canon" of literature? Do Hemingway and Steinbeck truly teach our students more than the teen books they might otherwise prefer? One colleague in my department--who I respect enormously--questioned at a recent meeting whether or not we should truly be teaching Shakespeare at all in this day and age.

Once I recovered from my shock (it took me five days to do so) I had this to say...

Yes, we should.

And while I think that response should suffice, I'll explain. First, do not misunderstand me. I am a fan of all literature, and I read voraciously both classic and contemporary works. I am a huge fan of Jonathan Lethem (read Motherless Brooklyn, my all-time favorite), Connie Willis, and Jasper Fforde. I see the value in contemporary literatur…

While my Soapbox is Still Out...

In the district where I am employed, we recently passed a renewal levy worth three million dollars...by 59 votes. As if that slim margin wasn't disheartening enough, one (crabby) lady living in the district has petitioned to have the levy recounted at the expense of the school district. Apparently that $25 a year she'll save if the levy doesn't pass is her bingo money. And we all know how important that is.

Bitterness aside (temporarily), I am baffled by people's reluctance in this country to support public education or those who make public education their career. I am disgusted by the lack of respect teachers receive from many Americans, including those whose children are currently in public schools. I understand I am biased; education is my livelihood, of course I'd like to see people willing to pay for it (and me) in spades. But I accept that this isn't the case. I just don't quite understand why.

Recently the NEA published an article about an essay writt…