Tuesday January 28, 1992

Today was the most organized and together day I've seen yet. I had the chance to work with each of the three teachers I'll be working with, and I think that I can benefit from spending time with each of them. Hours 1 & 3 were with the usual kids, and they were working on the Odyssey again, though today they actually interacted with the real text. They read a short, easy version of the Polyphemus episode, and then listened to it read (fairly well) in the Fitzgerald translation. I could tell they were listening because there were some very graphic images and they were ready for them (having read the short version) and though the language was somewhat difficult the images were graphic enough (the hiss of the plunge of the hot stake, the dashing out of brains, the fear of being discovered) they were gasping, grossing and shrieking. It was great. The way the class was organized was perfect. And they will remember what they heard.

I went to Mr. Reynolds' class for fifth hour, and this was a completely different experience. This class of 9th graders is working on descriptive writing, and though they were not terribly excited, they did do what they were supposed to. He then had them do an exercise where they had to describe something in the room with shape and color words, without mentioning its use, and they tried to guess each other's. It was a good exercise and they responded fairly well.

Sixth hour was watching part of "The Grapes of Wrath". The movie was cued to the proper spot (something that drives me crazy is having to spend 5 minutes going back and forth trying to find the spot when there is a counter that will keep track of where you were) but the class was not paying much attention. I have strong doubts about showing movies in addition to (euphemism for 'instead of') reading the books, and a film as dark, brooding and remote as this did not make a strong impression on them. I have no idea what they have been doing or how they were prepared, but they were not terribly interested (even though a quiz and a threat of 'beefing up' that quiz was promised). The class though, was at least big and there, which distinguishes them from my other classes, and I think the teacher and I have a lot in common. The purpose of school is not to prepare people for MMAT tests but for life, and a major part of life is making decisions. Literature is a great way to help people see what kinds of decisions are available to them and what their options and consequences might be. I am looking forward to working with this group.

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