Richer Than Hemingway

“But then we did not think of ourselves ever as poor. We did not accept it…. We ate well and cheaply and ate well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.” A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway “Are you ready?” I ask my Period 3 Honors American Literature class as they file in,…

Holden

“What I was really hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of a good-by. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-by or a bad good-by, but when I leave a place I like…

Last Words, Not Famous

The squeals of accomplishment and relief fill the air as the final bell rings on the last day of school. Finals still loom, but that’s all the way after the weekend. Until then, my juniors can bask in the accomplishment of their penultimate year of school. As has become tradition, I’ve written them a letter,…

English Teacher Neverland

“I mean, if you have to spend almost all of your money on something–” I begin. “–it should probably be a book,” he cuts me off with a solemn nod. “Exactly.” Honors American Literature, Winter 2013 I remember the war between kids and reading. It was a Genesis 3-style feud: And I shall put enmity between teenagers and…

“Worth The Sadness”

I know that it’s English teacher heresy, but I find Dead Poets Society impossibly sad. Peter Weir’s 1989 film has become a personal classic, falling into the genre of “teacher movies” that I consume with the same emotional voracity that some men I know attach to sports or war movies. I love these movies, and watch them…

Things (And Mostly People) That Made Life Better This Year: 2012 Edition

Black Forest Academy–this ever-changing community of staff and students that flow in and out of this little valley on the edge of the dark hills–is a place of tradition. Do something once, whether it’s dumping someone in a pond on their birthday or granting crazy Christmas wishes, and it’s likely that you’ll be asked to…

Askew

But Mouse, you are not alone,
 In proving foresight may be vain:
 The best laid schemes of mice and men
 Go often askew,
 And leaves us nothing but grief and pain,
 For promised joy!

 Robert Burns, from “To A Mouse”     In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge;  Let me never be ashamed. …

In the Forest

In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods, we return to reason and faith. Ralph Waldo Emerson It is grey November, a Thursday afternoon,…

Knowledge of Good and Evil

The epilogue of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible hangs in silence in the last minutes of class, images of haunted farms and wrongly-executed non-witches dispersing like smoke into the sunny Friday afternoon. I congratulate my students on finishing the first book of the year, and ask them what they think. The reply is nearly unanimous: We don’t like…

Of Books and Places

“So, do you like English?” I know that the question, directed at the future eleventh grader beside me, is a long shot.  All questions related to school seem distant and unreal in this first week of summer.  Like half a dozen others, we’re working at the new middle school in Sitzenkirch, prepping it for painting tomorrow….