"At the still point, there the dance is." —T. S. Eliot
|Scooped by GoogleLitTrips Reading List|
1 August 2015
PREFACE: This commentary rests upon a confession of sorts that I was a bit of a fool in my own school days. I prefer the term "late bloomer." A goofball nevertheless. However, I will remind the reader that I did later wind up becoming an actual high school English teacher and dedicating my teaching career to a high school English teacher who made all the difference in the world to me.
There were times in my me-centric youth when almost nothing in school annoyed me more than being told by my English teachers that it is important to read between the lines in literature.
For example, as a freshman in high school, I was not even slightly interested in love. Cars, baseball, and horsing around with my buddies pretty much crowded wanting a girlfriend on my list of stuff I cared about off my list of stuff I cared about. In fact, among my buddies, having a girl friend was setting oneself up for ruthless teasing.
This did not mean that we had no interest in girls. But, that interest, although normal, was not focused upon love. Though we all enjoyed a wide variety of jokes based in the realm of lust. Nothing to be particularly proud of.
BUT, Romeo and Juliet was required reading nevertheless. Ironically, in general I was a pretty enthusiastic reader when it came to books I could choose myself. But the combination of Shakespeare's "torturous" language and the focus upon teens in love, pre-empted any chance that I would believe the play could possibly have any interest for me.
I remember "cracking a joke" during one of our final class lectures about the play that played exceptionally well with most of my male buddies in the class and earned me mostly scornful eye-rolling from most of the females in the class and a few unwelcome words from the teacher both in front of my classmates as well as in private when the teacher asked me to remain after class that day.
The joke? The teacher, hoping to harvest expressions of gratitude for assigning the play, asked for our opinion about the play's "sad" ending. He got a few such comments from the students that I perceived as being the "goody-goody" students. When the teacher had harvested enough positive comments he made the mistake of "randomly" calling upon me for my thoughts on the ending. In the carelessly too-common way I had about such things, I responded, "Actually, I couldn't wait for them to kill themselves."
What I meant was that I couldn't wait for us to be finished reading the play because it was really hard to read and I perceived it to be a teen love story for which I had virtually no interest.
This confession leads me to the reason I chose to scoop this particular article.
The short reason being well-stated in the old saying, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
The longer reason being that the beholder may or may not yet be ready to see or appreciate the beauty of a well-turned phrase, an exquisitely written poem, or a masterpiece of literary significance. This does not mean that the beholder and the "beholdee" might not come together at a later date when the beholder might have matured sufficiently to appreciate what he or she had not given a chance earlier.
An interesting aside
My wife and I found our very first teaching jobs in the same district where I had gone to school. Mine was a long-term sub job at the very high school I had attended. My wife's was at the middle school I had attended.
Needless to say, I had had several teachers with whom I had suddenly become a colleague. And, my wife had to learn how to react to her new colleagues, many of whom I had had for teachers, when they swallowed awkwardly, struggling for something positive to say, not comprehending how she could have married someone for whom their recollections were of a goofball class clown.
Today, though remnants of the fun-loving goofball still exist, I do see much beauty between the lines of the 51 sentences noted in this scooped article. I realize that the beauty IS in what is actually between the lines.
Though not every kid will be able to "see" the beauty between the lines, most will see that there is an intended message between the lines that is greater than the sum of the sentence's parts. They will be able to see that an intended bit of useful wisdom is there to see.
So... How might I use this webpage in class?
1st: I'd share the webpage rather than copy sentences to paper. Paper triggers more "auto-reject" responses than a webpage. (sort of like reading Shakespeare triggers more "auto-reject" responses than experiencing Shakespeare as a play or movie. Keep in mind the "original sources" for interacting with Shakespeare was witnessing a performance)
2nd: I'd ask students to take some time to read all 51 sentences taking note of those that "appealed to them" because they could see and appreciate the "wisdom between the lines." I'd let them know that I was convinced every one of them COULD easily see the messages between the lines AND that I also realized that they would like some of them more than others and that this was OKAY.
3rd: I'd challenge them to focus upon five or so (arbitrary number) sentences that they found least interesting/beautiful and to see if they could articulate what those who liked those particular sentences might have liked about them. I'd clarify that understanding what others liked about sentences they themselves did not find that interesting does not mean that they had to agree with those who liked the sentences. It just means that they are able to understand what others might have liked about them. (This is basically a trick to get them to accept that people can have perfectly reasonable differences of opinion.)
4th: I'd offer an opportunity for students to give some thought overnight about other sentences or phrases they are aware of that speak to them between the lines. I'd encourage them to think of anything from bumper stickers, to slogans, to lines from a favorite song or movie or poem, to famous quotes, to advise they've been given by parents, teachers, spiritual advisors, to __________ (any short string of words that spoke to them in important ways)
5th: I'd end with an open discussion on the meaning of INFORMATION and the meaning of WISDOM.
Perhaps a Venn Diagram might be in order.
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