Friday, February 26, 2010

A Few Minor Changes

I am making a few minor changes to Quotidian Light for the purposes of preserving privacy. I do not think any of my students are interested enough to go looking for me online, but on the off chance that they might become so, I am changing my username and profile picture. Most of my readers know me well enough to not be phased in the least by this. I love you for it.

Perhaps with this added layer of semi-anonymity, blog entries will happen more often. I'm hoping so. I miss the writing and reflection that blogging provided for so long.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Who IS This Person?

Tonight I have been sitting here updating my resumé to include in an application to the Ozark Writing Project's Summer Invitational Institute. When I finished saving the updated file, I raided Great Scott's desk for suitable paper--the really nice stuff--and printed out my creation.

It frightens me. It looks so official and...impressive. Who is this person, and what in the world am I doing impersonating her?!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Language and Listening

For my birthday this year, Great Scott gave me The Best American Essays 2009, which was edited by Mary Oliver. The language in the chosen essays of this volume seems to me richer than that of most contemporary essays. Many of Oliver's choices echo the style of some of her own favorite writers, Victorians such as Emerson and Whitman, whose writing require readers to slow down and immerse themselves deeply in the flow of words rather than skimming merrily over the top of them. The Younger Daughter and I have been reading George MacDonald's Phantastes on weekend mornings and snow days, and here, too, I've been struck by the richness of the words and wording of the Victorians. My students--most of them--would never be able to follow sentences like these, sentences which wind and curl like vines up pillars or large-trunked trees, sprouting side branches and arabesque tendrils before finally growing into comprehensive maturity and blooming gloriously into full, many-petaled meaning.

As I was reading to The Younger Daughter earlier this week, I began wondering if she might be better prepared to read and comprehend such sentences on her own for having heard them read aloud by someone else. The human mind is a great recognizer of patterns. If, when it begins a complex task, it has some basic patterns in place, basic patterns that will aid in the comprehension and execution of the complex task at hand, that task will be accomplished much more easily and with better results. My students have all acquired the skill, the pattern knowledge, of word-calling; however many to most of the students in my classes have not developed an ear for written language. They don't hear the words in their heads as they read. The rhythms and melodies of the written word blow past them like so many dry, leaves; inflection and the subtle meaning it carries is lost. I wish all children were read to aloud. Written words are symbols for our quickened breath passing between tongue and tooth, for living human spirit shaped into transmissible entities leaving our lips. Expecting a child to read well without her having experienced the breath of life blown across the pages of books and into her waiting ear is like handing her a bird from the taxidermist and requiring her to comprehend and demonstrate flight.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Another Year

I am still writing "2009" on checks and attendance slips.

Last Friday on my birthday an old friend and fellow Douglas Adams reader reminded me that I am now the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Age-specific ads at the side of my Facebook page tell me that forty-two year-old women wear Ug boots, buy iPads, and publish their own poetry. My students ask if I rode the pterodactyl to school or took the mammoth. Outside stars billions of years old burn so fiercely that their light still reaches us, and the patient moon grows old and young again. Why should I fear?