|Blackboard by Winslow Homer, 1877|
I've completed my first week of teaching three English classes of eleventh and twelfth grade young women. Here are some observations and notes:
- a bit of Emily Dickinson -- hope and the thing with feathers -- inspired a group of let's say recalcitrant girls to write their own three stanza poems using extended metaphor and dang if they didn't do a beautiful job
- have argued over whether or not to read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (only the 12th grade girls are reading it, now). It's old. It's hard. Cry me a river.
- read aloud Christina Rossetti's The Goblin's Market and are now doing a fine analysis of it (thank you, LP, for turning me on to this strange and wonderful poem). I felt a tad uncomfortable reading the provocative parts of the poem, given the sensual imagery of juices running out of mouths, etc., but this poem! the language!
- have begun reading Hawthorne's Rappaccini's Daughter. Remember that? I loved Hawthorne stories as a young reader and hope to pass along the weirdness (not of me but of him) to these students.
- have worn black tights three times this week which is more times than in the previous twenty years. This is not hyperbole
- who knew I had so little modest clothing? I've had to purchase some things that make me feel strangely invisible which provokes thought -- interesting thoughts --we think the ways in which we adorn ourselves speak to identity but maybe they don't because I am still me however much I look like an Italian widow
- (the question of being told what to wear and what constitutes modesty and the concomitant questions of male authority and hierarchy and what it means to be reverent, etc.)
I am both exhausted and exhilarated, my voice hoarse at the end of the teaching period, warranting a Rules and Expectations hand-out that includes some communication pointers and a stern demand for respect for me and for one another which translates into Refrain from interrupting and talking over one another and me.