In Her Shell
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I am teaching freshmen for the first time this year. I had a few of them in my remedial test-prep class when I first started teaching, but never in groups bigger than 10. Now I have my very own two sections of Freshman Lit, with 18-24 students each.

I've been teaching juniors for three years. I had forgotten.

They are small and cute. They ask questions like, "Am I allowed to use this bathroom?" and "How do I get to the Science wing?" They aren't sure of themselves yet, haven't learned to be wary. They participate. They try.

They also, apparently, read. I ask my students on the first day of school to list all the books they've read in the last year, and draw a little face next to each one to indicate how they felt about reading it. When I ask my juniors to do this, brows wrinkle over blank eyes as they scour their memories for American Lit's requirements. My freshmen asked, "Do you mean for school or outside of school?" They made cute little lists indicating what they read for book reports, what they read for class, and what they read at home.

What happens? Do they get too busy or does it get too hard? Do they start feeling embarrassed to admit to reading for pleasure? Do we suck the joy out of it?

I'm afraid of breaking them.
What happens to them is that TV and movies and older kids have convinced them that caring is not cool so the ones that want to be cool pretend not to care so much that they start not to care and the ones that do care get berated and bullied into at least keeping their mouths shut about the book they read last night.
From my memory - they get too busy. School work gets harder (more homework), they start dating, driving, having later curfews. But hopefully, if they have this love for reading now, they will come back to it like we all did. I remember reading VERY little for pleasure until after college. Now I read as much as I can and it's STILL not enough :)
Ohmygod, bless you for loving freshmen. You make me at least WANT to love them. I'm sure you won't break them - I think they get busy AND it gets too hard, and bitterness is in, ya know? It will pass.
It's your job to break them! We need more people in the service industry.
JAG: That is incredibly depressing.

Snix: That is more encouraging.

Megan: Hope this passed muster as an inspirational post about Back to School, per your request. :)

Dale: That is encouraging, but also depressing.
I don't know the answer to your question. But my freshman English teacher was a bitch from hell and I hated her. She was also mean to my dad (who was a teacher in the same school) so I paid her back by stealing my dad's confidential list of teachers' phone numbers and crank calling her all summer long after the year was over.

She used to say things like "well that's an immature attitude you're expressing" when I would comment during class discussions. (She said the above to me when I commented how angry I felt about the meanness of the powerful boys in 'Lord of the Flies.')

Not that you asked me any of this.
Wouldn't it be great if they could maintain that optimism and skip the jaded stage?
Break them! Break them!
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don't break them!! for me, freshman year I think could have made or broken my love for reading. it made it. i still think of my freshman english teacher of being one of the best i've ever had.
CP: Your freshman English teacher sounds unhinged. I'm glad you harassed her.

Beth: Yes... but maybe the jaded stage is important too... ?

Grant: I will take your comments under advisement.

SIHS: I will try to be gentle with them, while also stretching them a bit. It's a tough balance.
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