I'm blogging this from the NCTE Convention in Philadelphia, PA. It's my third day here, and, so far, the conference has pretty much been worth it. This is partly because you reached me at a really good time; I just got to see Kelly Gallagher speak, and he's someone I've read for years, and I'm happy to say that his discussion was one of the best I've seen in a while about the practice of teaching. I'm rushing over in a bit to buy his latest book, Readacide, which seems to be about a lot of what he talked about today - how schools are killing reading in this country, and how this is partially fueled by NCLB.
A colleague and I presented together yesterday, a session that we called "Found in Translation: Changing World, Changing Books." We pulled it off. A third person in our group dropped out two days before we left, which was a bummer, but I think the small group we presented to was appreciative. I hate talking so long, and wish I had worked on the presentation longer, but overall, well, we pulled it off. I'll hopefully to it again someday - maybe about teaching James Baldwin, perhaps in concert with other under-appreciated authors for study.
Coming to this conference is mostly a humbling experience for me. I see so many great ideas, and this causes me to reflect on my own practice, and I just feel inadequate. Kelly Gallagher, for example, just used an example of a teacher who makes her students put a post-it on every page of Romeo and Juliet to annotate the text, and asked, rhetorically, if we would want to stop a film every four minutes to stop and take notes. Of course not. I'm not a natural text-marker except when I feel the need to remember something, and I have caught myself requiring students to do it before. As early as last week, in fact - once per paragraph. It was for something short, but still... Ugh. Am I committing Readacide? I hope not. (Judging by the mostly positive reactions I've had to Baldwin, so far, I think I am not, though.)
I'm about to head back to the exhibitions, to look for Gallagher's latest book. I'm excited about getting back to school, though daunted by the prospect of going back on Monday. So much going on right now. I wish I could just slow things down for a bit. Hopefully after Thanksgiving I can feel normal again, after my folks come down for their visit.
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