Friday, April 04, 2008

Meme: Passion Quilt

Passion Quilt: Gotta Love the Books!

Chas Clifton, author of Letter from Hardscrabble Creek, has tagged me with a teaching meme, focused on what is our passion as teachers. And partly because, when I sit in worship and ask what it is I am supposed to be doing, I often see the face of one or another particular students, and partly because I think that there are so many things out there that can leach away a teacher's joy in teaching, I'm going to take up the challenge.

It's one I find especially poignant, given the fact that Chas, a longtime teacher of journalism and writing, is leaving the profession at the end of this semester. "The zest is gone," he writes, and I understand why he has to "flog [himself] into actually writing the comments" on each new batch of student papers. There's an aspect of teaching that's a lot like being on a treadmill.

In respect to a colleague, how can I say no?

Here are the meme's directions:
  • Post a picture or make/take/create your own that captures what YOU are most passionate for students to learn about.
  • Give your picture a short title.
  • Title your blog post "Meme: Passion Quilt."
  • Link back to this blog entry.
  • Include links to 5 (or more) educators.
My picture's title? Gotta love the books.

Gotta love the books, gotta love the kids.

I became a teacher when I discovered that I loved teenagers--not as a psychotherapist, because psychotherapy is just not their natural habitat, their metier, the way a classroom is. Within a classroom, you see them as they naturally are: passionate, quirky, always-hidden and right-out-in-the-open. They hate and despise adults and the adult world, and they love, need, and flourish under adult attention. They're weird, and annoying, and lovable the way dogs are lovable, if you're a dog person.

I've always loved books.

I literally don't remember a time before I could read. I was one of those kids who learned to read very early and books have always been one of the most important things in my life. My idea of heaven, if there is a heaven, is an enormous, rambling library, with an autumn day outside which should either be perfect for reading under a tree, or rainy, so I can camp out in a comfy armchair beside one of the library's many fireplaces.

Books are magical. I have read while walking down a sidewalk, while waiting for a bus in near-darkness, caught in a traffic jam, huddled under my covers, in hospital emergency rooms and outside intensive care units. I have read while in love, while numb with shock or grief, while waiting outside of job interviews and, perhaps most delightfully, I've read to my child, to friends' children, and now to whole classrooms full of teenagers. I know the hush that steals over the room when they're really listening, and the triumph in their faces when they bring me news of a new title in a series they've fallen in love with. (And which I introduced them to!)

I want the students who pass through my classroom to read. More than anything else, I want them to fall in love with books, as I have: the friends who are always home, the comfort that never fails, the escape that's always just a page away, no matter how awful our present-reality. No other drug compares, no earthly friend is as faithful, as is a good book.

Read. Read trash, read manga, read Batman comics--it's all the same to me. Find your joy, find your idea of a good book, and read, read, read!

To hell with literature. Just find yourself a good book, my dears, and All Will Be Well.

I don't think I can name five bloggers I know who are teachers. On the other hand, that's not what we usually blog about, and there may be teachers (in a traditional or a religious sense) I'm not thinking of. So I invite those who would like to participate in this meme to go ahead and leave a comment linking to your blog post.


Stasa said...

I am thinking of two university professors and a graduate student instructor I know. If you like, I'll ask them if it's all right with them for you to tag them. :) (I think the one university professor is most likely to respond -- this is right up her alley.) Let me know.

Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

That's OK. I may come up with some names as I think more... or not. For the moment, I'm leaving it to volunteers.

Maybe I'm just part of the "edges" of this particular quilt.


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