On Modern bestsellers: a lack of 18th-century leisure and 19th-century boredom. Having dropped out of Little Dorrit after the first trimester, I am determined to see Bleak House through. I’ve been listening to a delightful audio recording. I woke up on an elliptical machine from a protracted daydream yesterday, though, and found that I had […]
Last week, I failed to secure the conviction of the five-paragraph essay. I start with the excuses. I haven’t practiced law for over a decade now. The judge had no concept of the learned treatise exception to the hearsay rule. The jury found against us by the thinnest of margins: three to two. The majority […]
Rubrics therefore perpetuate the idea that a text can be read only one way and is, consequently, subject to a single standard. The rubric’s poor example, therefore, helps to keep poor readers reading poorly. . . . Part of fostering the art of reading, and the art of writing with it, is “rejecting the preoccupation with some illusory unspecifiable absolute or ‘correct’ reading or ideal reader” (Rosenblatt 140), the notion of a false absolute that rubrics tend to perpetuate no matter how subjectively their cells are written.
I teach high school English to hang around writing. Like most people, I learn best when I teach, and I hope to learn writing by teaching it. It has always worked for me with the other strands in our English curriculum. Teaching grammar, for instance, has helped me to learn a lot of grammar I […]
Here’s a worthy little book to get you caught up on the sorry state of school essay instruction. I got The School Essay Manifesto: Reclaiming the Essay for Students and Teachers to find out some better ways to write first drafts before shaping them into literary analysis essays. Thomas Newkirk, the author, does describe three […]
I like “like,” but I hate “wait.” Some of my snootier colleagues get around to expressing their exasperation with this generation’s overuse of “like,” but I never hear anyone complain about what drives me bats: my students’ use of “wait” in addressing me. For my entire five-year teaching career, most students have addressed me as […]
These days I’m grading and grading. Some of my kids’ speeches are good. The school’s subscription databases, though, suddenly seem so dated. I’ll update a student controversy, one that mirrors an article from the likes of Issues and Controversies: “Should the United States provide direct support for pro-democracy movements in the United States?” My seniors don’t know what […]
I started to see triadicity everywhere whether or not it was referred to as such. Triangles always worked. One instructor at the University of New Hampshire read a few paragraphs from Susin Nielsen’s young adult novel We Are All Made of Molecules. In it, Stewart describes his mother’s death as the collapse of an equilateral triangle in which his father, mother, and he makes up the triangle’s sides. It reminded me of the sad reliance on dualistic philosophy in the Common Core, in American politics, in many American churches’ hermeneutics, and in Constitutional construction. Like Stewart, I visualized a triangle with a missing base in order to cope with a tragedy.
Each summer I organize the new academic year in units. Until this summer, I did the job in three to five hours. This summer I have spent weeks at the task. After learning more about writing instruction at a summer institute, I want to tie most of my ninth-grade English curriculum – literature, grammar, oral […]
I did have one of my professors pick me out of his giant English lit survey to take to lunch one day freshman year. I remember his pleasant patter at the University Cafeteria, but I never remembered anything he said. Like Stoner with his professor and, later, Stoner’s students with theirs, I must have been staring at my hands for most of the meal.