Thursday, March 31, 2011

We Want to be More than Ourselves

Here are some words of C.S. Lewis on why we read:

The nearest I have yet got to answer is that we seek an enlargement of our being. We want to be more than ourselves. Each of us by nature sees the whole world from one point of view with a perspective and a selectiveness peculiar to himself. And even when we build disinterested fantasies, they are saturated with, and limited by, our own psychology. To acquiesce in this particularity on the sensuous level—in other words, not to discount perspective—would be lunacy. We should then believe that the railway line really grew narrower as it receded into the distance. But we want to escape the illusions of perspective on higher levels too. We want to see with other eyes, to imagine with other imaginations, to feel with other hearts, as well as with our own. We are not content to be Leibnitzian monads. We demand windows. Literature as Logos is a series of windows, even of doors. One of the things we feel after reading a great work is “I have got out.” Or from another point of view, “I have got in”; pierced the shell of some other monad and discovered what it is like inside.
Later in the same work:
Literature enlarges our being by admitting us to experiences not our own. They may be beautiful, terrible, awe-inspiring, exhilarating, pathetic, comic, or merely piquant. Literature gives the entree to them all. Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom realize the enormous extension of our being that we owe to authors. We realize it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense, but he inhabits a tiny word. In it, we should be suffocated. My own eyes are not enough for me. Even the eyes of all humanity are not enough. Very gladly would I learn what face things present to a mouse or bee. In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in a Greek poem, I see with a thousand eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do (emphasis added).
C. S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), 137–141.
I have been thinking about the importance of literature in the lives of our children and in my own life especially. Why do I spend my time teaching students to become readers, thinkers, and creators in this ‘old school’ art of reading and writing? When we read we are able to feel what otherwise would not be felt from history or science or mathematics. We are able to put on the armor of knight or the wings of a butterfly. We can be a nonconforming high school student or a Lutheran Prince of Denmark.
The idea of a class that makes one read what one does not want to read is contrary to the idea of literature. So, how can I (as a middle school language arts teacher) humbly ask my students to forge past the expectations and the demands placed upon them by the state, and to read literature that makes them feel and experience. I have students that have found the joy of having a window to climb out of or to leap into, but the majority of them have pulled the drapes over the window.
May the passion that God has given me flow into the students that I rub shoulders with. May we drown the STANDARD COURSE OF STUDY with the passion, exuberance, reflection, expectation, and emotional tidal wave of students reading for pleasure.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What do you get when...?

What do you get when you cross a Mormon, a Catholic, and a Baptist?

Henderson Middle School Baseball!

Over the last couple of months, I have grown in my relationship with two great guys. Patrick and Jackson are both coaches for the HMS baseball team and they asked me to help out. I love baseball and working with the students so I said "Yes." Patrick is Catholic and Jackson is a Mormon, but we seem to mesh well and coach together well.

Before practice the other day Jackson said that our coaching staff sounded like the opening to a joke, and I have been thinking about it ever since. Even though we disagree over points of theology, we are able to come together and work as a team. Hopefully, our conversation will push and challenge each other to seek out the truth and the core of what we believe.

For me, after a good conversation with Jackson, I have been researching the deity of Jesus with a couple theologies and my Bible. Thank you Jackson for pushing me to the Word of God.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This is What I Know

Our administration decided to cancel our monthly club day (an hour on Friday) again this month. We have not had a club day since November. I am not sure the reason for all of the cancellations, but the students and many teachers look forward to club day every month. I sponsor a poetry club and had planned to have the students watch a video and start their own spoken word poetry. So, since the principal announced the cancellation in last period, I kept my last period class for the rest of the day. We had club day together. We wrote poems and took the digital cameras outside for some inspiration. Here is my poem from yesterday. It is a hodgepodge of the feelings that have been floating around in my head all week.

This is what I know:
I know that the grass that grows on fertile soil will become greener the more that it is watered, and that the grass that is not watered, or on good soil, will become brown and crunchy.
I know that if you give respect to others you will not always get it back, but if you never respect others you will never have a meaningful relationship.
I know that students love to talk and love to play; they love to stand around and hang (all except for those few that don’t care about the popular thing).
I know that baseball is a great game, but that there are those who make it about something other than baseball and other than a game. I don’t want to be around those people.
I know that headaches are a part of life (at least for me), and I lose a little self control when my brain feels like it is being squashed by an elephant.
I know that I hate to give failing grades but that if I don’t students will think they earned something that they didn’t.
I know that children are a joy to be around, and that it is so hard to punish them when they do wrong.
Yet, I also know that if a child is never punished for the evil that comes out of them, they will become cold and callus to the world.
I know that hard words make soft people and that soft words make hard people…and I don’t want my kids or students to be hard.
I know that God made us all different, and it ticks me off when one person makes fun of another person for something that they can't change ( know...they might change if they could).
I know that I am overweight, husky, big boned, fat, large, obese, and a whole lot of other labels that people put on me, but labels do not define me - GOD DEFINES ME!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Old Blog

I was having trouble with wordpress and decided to change to blogger. So here is the link to my previous entries.