When my 7th and 8th grade students first hear that we’re going to read Shakespeare, many slouch in their chairs, groan, gag, and roll their eyes. But each time we open A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet, they find out how accessible and enjoyable the Bard can be, and I’m reminded of five reasons I love reading Shakespeare with my middle school students.
I once read somewhere that Plato said we would not be ready to learn until we were about fifty because that is about the age in which we realize we do not know anything. As much as those in education--public school, private school, home school, community college, and universities--may discuss having a teachable spirit, I have found that those are sometimes the very places in which it is the riskiest to admit that you do not know.
One of the qualities I’ve grown to love about my logic level** students is the quirky combination of playful innocence and sporadic insight. While the fluctuating maturity levels can prove frustrating, they also indicate a beautiful transition.
I realized that I could have helped them pick the story apart, but I really didn’t want to overanalyze and so kill the story. So I began to ask myself: Why read nonsense literature? What’s the place of nonsense in the life of a Christian?
The next day, I had my students write journal entries (funny or personal—their choice) based on the following prompt: I just wish (insert a person here) would understand…
Right in the middle of this Lenten season, we find ourselves confronted with requests for self-denial in the midst of a lot of unanswered questions and when our instincts for self-preservation tell us to buy up all of the milk, bread, and eggs. Much of what many of us have been asked to sacrifice might not be considered much of a sacrifice by others, and yet, what is being sacrificed is revealing a great deal regarding what we, generally speaking, depend upon—socially, economically, maybe even, for good or ill, psychologically and spiritually. How does it feel to tell ourselves no, even in regards to the non-essentials? Do we feel threatened? Cheated? Do we feel the need to maybe, announce it a little? To pat ourselves on the back because we aren’t doing this for ourselves but for those who are more vulnerable? Or at least reward ourselves through what seems a smaller indulgence? A way to cope? During this Lenten season, I know I’ve been tempted to “give myself a break.” A mini “Fat Tuesday” of sorts. And a break from what, really? From being reminded of my own mortality and that of those around me? From unconsciously excusing myself for wanting to indulge in comfort food because I’m not as bad as the person I saw in the parking-lot with the entire back seat of a car filled with toilet paper? Or the people who hoarded $18,000 worth of hand sanitizer? Perhaps I’ve actually been tempted to shut myself up in my room with my own hedonism?
For me, childhood outdoor memories include climbing a dogwood tree and flinching when I felt a caterpillar crawl across my hand, running barefoot through the hay field that was still wet and warm with dew and humidity, and picking and eating June apples with a little red headed girl from across the street. Most summer and autumn days we pretended we were characters from whatever book we were reading, spinning stories as we explored our backyards. We weren’t rushed, and we were free to explore and create out of enjoyment.
I remember sitting in my dad’s lap while he read this little book called The Little Taxi that Hurried. No one can read that book like my dad. One of these differences has to do with sound effects. Only Dad can make that taxi honk properly. Thankfully, I have five younger brothers and a sister, so dad hasn’t stopped reading The Little Taxi that Hurried. In fact, everyone crowds in the living room when he reads to the younger kids.
I thought I would provide a list of books that have been helpful to me as I continue on my journey in humane learning.
Over the past fifteen years the devotional and literary aspects of my spiritual life have taken different forms...