In My Brain // Trying To Get It Right

For all the confidence and excitement I feel about the work I do in my classes,
(which I recognize is a tremendously fortunate series of circumstances already)
I probably experience the same amount of dread and fear that I'm doing it all wrong
and ruining a young person's day/week/life without meaning to.

Like, maybe daily.

And realistically: there's a <0% chance that's true.

Sure, I'm doing my best with what I know and what I've got,
neither of which are constants from one day to the next.

And there are a million ways to achieve the objectives --
if I've even identified the right objectives in the first place --

at least as many ways as there are brains in the room.

So many brains that want and need and deserve different pieces,
and only one of me bringing what I've designed for that day.

It can be crushing going down that spiral.
Seems reasonable: the stakes are high.

I remember my own teachers -- the best ones and the worst --
all of them so critical in shaping who I am
and what I believe about myself and the world.

So I'll continue to do my best
and grow what I know and what I've got.

With that, some recent open tabs:

*Photo of a 9th grader's rad notebook

Heart Eyes // Night Stories

I am so struck by Linden Frederick's Night Stories series.

Partially because of my initial disbelief that these are oil paintings, not photographs.

And maybe partially because my 12th grade students just finished Cormac McCarthy's The Road,
and that novel's desolate imagery lives in my brain.

These images are so peaceful yet haunting. The tension between light and dark is so precise.

I did some further reading and really enjoyed this piece, too.

All images via Linden Frederick

Why should you read Kurt Vonnegut?

A 9th grade student who recently finished one of my favorite books, Catch-22,
asked me to recommend something she should read next.

I replied, "Have you ever heard of Kurt Vonnegut?"

I'm always reluctant to recommend my favorites to students.
They're so subjective
(even moreso the curriculum I've designed and make everyone follow).

I feel I have to defend the works.
Or be good enough for them myself.

It's weirdly personal,
in the way that literature, often at its best, can be,
in the ways I try every day to sell to students with other texts.

What a contradiction!

I've never taught a Vonnegut novel, even though he's my favorite.
(I have included "Harrison Bergeron" in a short stories unit.)

I'm kind of too scared to do it.

And then later today, I came across this video from TED Ed:
Why should you read Kurt Vonnegut?

As I watched it I thought about how I had just recommended Vonnegut to a student
and how she'll probably come back and ask me why I like this author
and want to talk about how his works align with who I am as a human being.

And realized I felt pretty good about that.

Maybe good art is easily defensible, really.

"In spite of his insistence that we're all here to fart around, in spite of his deep concerns about the course of human existence, Vonnegut also advanced the possibility, however slim, that we might end up making something good. And if that isn't nice, what is?"

*Beautifully-illustrated images from the video