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The Fun Of Intellectual Pursuit
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Here's an example: As a young teacher I read poems by Carl Sandburg in our literature anthology. I'd read no Sandburg in college. Not academic enough, I presume. (When I asked one professor about Sandburg, he actually winced.) Sandburg's poems interested me, though. On the local PBS channel, I'd watched an actor assume Sandburg's persona, recite poems, strum a banjo, sing folk songs, and tell stories about hobos, Abraham Lincoln, and Connemara, Sandburg's farm in North Carolina. My interest piqued, I read a book of Sandburg's complete poems, found Tag Heuer Replica ones our anthology hadn't included but that I thought would engage students in thinking and discussion of Sandburg's themes and vivid use of language. I sketched a week of study, devised writing assignments that required analysis, synthesis, and creativity. Sandburg wrote "Jazz Fantasia." My students wrote their own musical fantasias. They had to analyze how Sandburg used metaphor, alliteration, and onomatopoeia so they could create their poems to capture on paper the music they loved. I had such high expectations when the poems were turned in that I spontaneously read each aloud, bringing to them the full weight of my oral interpretation skills so students could hear the sound, rhythm, and meaning carried in their words. "Hey," said one girl, "my poem's better than I thought." The laughter that day was plentiful, arising from language, meaning, youth culture, and a respect for student voices.
The exhilarating intellectual pursuit was driven by the gratification I took in poetry, language, and immersion of students in productive writing tasks. The research, the planning, the student engagement represented a life of mind, creativity, and improvisation we English teachers get to practice well beyond academic content standards. We get to show students how they are part of a powerful tribe of language users that includes the likes of Shakespeare, Maureen Dowd, and Lupe Fiasco.
"Literature," writes Francine Prose, "is an endless source of courage and confirmation. The reader and beginning writer can count on being heartened by all the brave and original works that have been written" (Reading 250). Vivid reading experiences are among the great pleasures for English teachers. Prose's Goldengrove, a novel that blurs adult and young adult literature, is the Tag Heuer Replica Watches most recent book I've read that has been a source of courage, confirmation, redemption, and hope.
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