Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Woe is I

It's a bad teaching week. I asked my students to name some American authors and after Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, and Robert Frost (who they were not sure was American), they had nothing.

I feel pretty shelled out. I feel like the expectations I have for students are increasing while their ability to meet them is waning. Shouldn't they be able to reference Hemingway? We do, after all, live in Michigan. I didn't even suggest that they should have read Hemingway, only that they should be able to put him in a list of American authors.

I'm confused and pissed off and worried that I am not the teacher I thought I was. And more than that, I'm worried that the teacher I am is anachronistic in an education system which does not require the reading of Shakespeare or Fitzgerald or Whitman (because if it was assigned in high school, "No one would read it.") I do not believe my students should want to get published or that they should be able to explicate a poem by Dickinson or even know what the word explicate means. But I do believe they should have heard of Emily Dickinson and they should have some awareness of her as a poet in America.

This is, I am learning, far too much to ask. I think I'll just quit and join the Grand Raggedy Roller Girls. I need to express my anger in more positive and apparently useful ways.


Diana said...

Well, it's not you. It seems that the American public education system has given up on teaching what we consider the basics. Sad, and it must be incredibly frustrating for you.

Still, at least no one said Dan Brown, that frigging hack. ;)

bethlynn said...

wow, seems like the students are needy in many more ways than first thought....

Nik said...

I like to pretend my students are Norwegian. Since I know nothing about Norwegian lit (very little. Except that Stephen King is Norwegian. As is Emily Dickinson) and since they no nothing about American lit, since they are Norwegian, then they and I spend many a fine hour discussing books by Swedes--whom we all have read and whom we love as much as we love ABBA.

Foxygen said...

What about that Mitch Albom? He writes some good stuff!!!

I'm trying to read more fiction. I've read like 3 novels in the past couple months, and two were by Americans!