So, I’m writing as a way to put all those random crazy stories in my head in one place. Started the blog yesterday. Named it something that not even my sister or my mother or my husband would think of – because sometimes – you just need that kind of freedom to think things through before they wind up under the scrutiny of the people that love you – and would therefore be the most offended by whatever you wrote.
Then it happened – I’m teaching Longfellow’s Paul Revere’s Ride – discussing whether the introductory statements, “Listen my children . . .” indicate that the poem is actually written in the elusive 2nd person or not – feet, meter, the randomness of the rhyme scheme the whole nine yards. (Which in and of itself is fairly amazing considering we are talking about 8th graders.) We bring in the potential allusion to Prometheus – which takes us into the parallels between Prometheus and Adam – and brought it back around to the lines in the poem about the spark igniting a flame and whether Revere was bringing knowledge – of good AND evil – just like the fruit in the Garden of Eden – I was enjoying my students.
We kicked it over to a supporting informational text to enhance our “Mythbusters” take on the poem. And they didn’t know what poetic license meant when they read that Longfellow had taken extra liberties with his. They actually thought it was a real license you had to have if you were going to write poetry – and some of them panicked because they didn’t have one. (The asynchronous development of children’s imaginations and their practical understanding of the world is amazing at times.) And we begin to discuss what a poetic license allows us to do as writers – make up new words, develop figurative language that makes our readers take the perspective we are crafting – all really great stuff for 8th grade – I mean really great. Then they started thinking of actual writers who may have used this crazy poetic license thing – Seuss of course came up – and the Jaberwocky – and then – then – from the back of the room comes – Yeah! The Mad Hatter!
Seriously – I never talk about Alice or her compatriots. I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow and I felt a strange sly grin spread across my face. They couldn’t know – could they – that their teacher has an alter ego. And ever since I’ve been wondering – how much of this latitude will I choose to take with the true events of my actual life as I wind it into and out of whatever I post here? Oh – because there already is quite a bit. You – know – because that amazing assignment – didn’t come home with my son – I gave that to my students three years ago – or maybe it was only two. But then again, the staring part is absolutely true. The fact that I dwell on that assignment in my mind more than anyone would ever know – that part is true too. Perhaps it is because my rendition of the Tell Tale Heart put one of the more adventurous boys in my class under a desk refusing to come out for the rest of the class period. His mother even called me to ask what I had done to scare him so. He was really freaked out. I’m not that good of an actress – but apparently, he didn’t want to come back to class because he was no longer sure I had all my marbles in one bag.
By the way – does anyone know how to make your computer NOT show every log in to G-mail you’ve ever used? Because someone could just possibly see the one I use for this thing – that could be a sticky wicket. Not really- but, then again – some people in this house are kind of OCD about knowing everything that goes on. Maybe that’s why I’m writing this – it’s thrilling to know that it’s just me – all personal – but there is just the slightest chance that you could be found out. Which, by the way again, is why Revere did NOT run through the streets shouting at the top of his lungs. This was a covert operation people! You don’t risk awakening the Loyalists – you just want the Patriots “to up and to arm”. And therein lies part of the myth/fact issue I want the students to understand – there is method in Longfellow’s madness – he really didn’t care about how Revere did it – he wanted us – those “children” in future generations – to be awake – to not silently slink into attitudes and comforts that would allow us to lose our liberty. Oh, dear – I feel the political soapbox rising – so, as my grandmother always said – I’d better close for today.