I haven’t blogged in over a year, and even then it was sporadic. Long story short, for the last 2 years my motivation, professionally, to put myself out there has been mitigated by some really gnarly ish that has happened to my colleagues that, althoughinmyheadIamalwaysblogging, it has been hard to sit down and clear my mind and find focus.
So I am going to start back at this with something that happened more than a year and a half ago. My daughter started high school. I’m the professional development coordinator in the district she is enrolled in. I work with teachers all the time, even her teachers—it is my passion.
Entering honors freshman English, Savannah had a summer reading assignment.
Proclaiming my bias right now. I was a secondary English teacher for 24 years, and for the last 10 I refused to give summer reading even to my AP students.
So her summer reading was Bless Me, Ultima, a novel I adore, and All the Light We Cannot See, a novel I hadn’t read yet. The work she had to do with Ultima was a list of almost 100 low level comprehension questions, and definitions of literary terms (probably 50) that spanned from metaphor & simile to anthropomorphism (24 years in the classroom and I had to look that one up).
Nevermind the fact that at the high school level we should not care that the difference between a simile and a metaphor has the word “like” or “as” in it, kids start learning that in second grade, but it’s about WHY the writer would use metaphorical language in the first place: I was on fire vs I was passionate, like a fire on fresh kindling, is pretty insignificant.
Anyhow, last summer I picked up All the Light We Cannot See. In it she had left a copy of the reading instructions for the summer assignment; it was to trace the imagery of light and dark, color and blindness.
As a veteran English teacher this seemed totally legit to me—after all the title is All the Light we Cannot See.
But as I read the novel last summer, completely transfixed by the characters and the plot—it is a truly beautiful work—I never once stopped my reading to think about imagery of light and dark, color and blindness. Until I would come to a page my daughter had left a sticky note on.
When she got to school on the first day of her freshman year she had to turn in her study guide notes and then take some tests to make sure she had done the summer reading (she quit reading All the Light We Cannot See after 100 pages—she went to Iowa to visit her Nana and Papa and cousins, and even admitted it to her teacher). She started the year with a D.
I have a BA in English. There is no way in hell that I would have been able to track imagery of light and dark, color and blindness on my first read—24 years in the classroom—I would have had to read it a second time to do what my 14 year old daughter was being asked to do independently DURING THE SUMMER.
And so I come back to act of will. I am writing this blog because it is important to me; because I know that there is something in my soul this will be good for—that hopefully it will make me keep writing.