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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hard Love

It's Saturday night, I'm in "Music City," so what else would I be doing if not blogging, right?

Some highlights, and then a question/rumination I'd appreciate feedback on.

Highlights:

*attending a session of my favorite, favorite author...yes, the one I've made an ass out of myself with on at least three separate occassions now, in three different cities...I mean, seriously. :-P

*the Walden Media people giving Andrew (and therefore me) free passes to an advance screening of the new Charlotte's Web movie, due in theatres in mid-December, for 4:30 yesterday afternoon at the Opry Mills. Being a children's lit. freak, this is another topic I could go on about forever, but won't. For now I will just say that the thing wrenches tears out of ya yet...somehow...E.B White's text didn't need the addition of a Robert Redford voiced horse...or, more importantly, the new plot line that all of the barn animals find Charlotte creepy until the great and good Wilbur comes along.

*having enough people attend my session to hand out all my handouts and generate a list of people wanting emails

*talking with the ever wonderful Toby and ever fabulous Jennifer Ochoa this morning

*Donald Graves's suggestion that when you look at each student, you should try and think of 3 nouns: not adjectives, not verbs, but nouns

Now, the question/rumination.

In my session at NCTE, I discussed the importance of asking students to confront the ideologies they bring into the reading of a text. As part of this, I demonstrated my own thinking that I share with students about why I select certain texts; The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963, in this particular case. I describe for them my experiences growing up in an all white northern Michigan town, my horror at the way my teachers and administrators chose to ignore all of the cruel and sometimes downright dangerous things my fellow students did to the one black student who moved to town in seventh grade and my determination, even then, to be a "better" kind of adult and teacher. One of the ways I try to be this person is through the teaching of literature.

Except...Thursday, I attended an NWP session titled "Under the Social Justice Umbrella: Using Literature to Combat Homophobia." And I realized, to my increasingly intense dismay, that every time I've tried to use a high quality book where the main characters are gay, I've not only encountered resistance but also...I've caved to that resistance. I don't think I am doing a good job of being that better kind of educator. I think I'm doing just like my teachers before me and turning a blind eye and disowning my responsibility to be the difference I wish to see in the world.

Suggestions? Thoughts?

2 Comments:

Blogger cathy said...

Hey Ninna, so who's the favorite favorite author? Must be fated that you meet in a same time/next year way with him. Your post gives me more questions. How IS the writing going? What did Graves mean by thinking of 3 nouns for each student? Wish we had more time to talk- it was nice seeing you, even if it was 900 miles from home! Cathy

7:00 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I was at that Under the Social Justice Umbrella: Using Literature to Combat Homophobia session as well and was thinking kind of the same thing. I haven't yet used any books with prominent gay characters, but I'm not sure I'll be strong enough to hold without caving. Ugh. Damn. Self-knowledge is a frustrating mess...

11:41 AM  

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