being yourself, control, Dante's Inferno, English class, express feelings, inspire, Jane Butler, Jane Paffenbarger Butler, joy, listening, Merchant of Venice, responding to art, Shakespeare, teacher, words, writing, Wuthering Heights
I absolutely adored my job today. I am talking about the one where I get to go to the high school and hang around the English classes and talk to kids about their writing. Today a steady stream of students visited me to discuss what to write their comparative papers on relative to Wuthering Heights and Dante’s Inferno, or how to prove some kind of point being made in Merchant of Venice. It all sounds pretty high brow, I know, believe me it is not, but truly the same dynamic occurs no matter whether we are talking about Shakespeare or the Sunday comics. It’s about art and responding to it, so there is not necessarily a correct answer. But half the kids are convinced that there is some special thing we must see them write in order to get the credit when truly it is about making an argument and supporting it with evidence to convince the reader of something.
So my job turns out to be sitting with kids helping them react honestly to the literature at hand since they cannot really pose an argument if they have not responded to the art in the first place. Whether they love it or hate it does not matter. Discovering that reaction and exploring why it is what it is, is so much more fun and so much easier than trying to figure out the right answer.