Header Image (book)


Monday, September 1, 2014

Back To School

Something to keep in mind as the 2014-2015 school term begins:

The classes that I teach to groups of homeschoolers begin tomorrow. This entire week will be a madhouse!

This year, the rotation for high school literature is British Literature.  We will begin the term with a study of Beowulf.  Other readings for this term, in addition to the anthology textbook, which contains a great deal of rather difficult poetry: John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, William Shakespeare's Richard III, and Charles Dickens's Hard Times.

I will also be teaching Grammar and Mechanics, Advanced Composition, American History, SAT Verbal Prep, Latin 3, Spanish 5, and Middle School Literature-Composition.  This class line-up reflects a reduction in the courses I offer.  I'm not getting any younger and need to be careful not to commit myself to course overload.

Many students new to the group have enrolled, and they will suffer a bit of a shock the first month. These classes are intense — as am I as a teacher.

Anyway, on September 2, we're off and running.


  1. "This class line-up reflects a reduction in the courses I offer. " If this is a reduction in your work load, .... . Wow! Too bad more young people don;t get this kind of "one-room-schoolhouse" experience.

    1. Jim,
      The one-room schoolhouse produced some of the finest minds. I know the advantages of one-classroom, one grade; I also know the disadvantages. I prefer to run multi-age groupings.

  2. From all the jails the boys and girls
    ___ Ecstatically leap,—
    Beloved, only afternoon
    ___ That prison doesn’t keep.

    They storm the earth and stun the air,
    ___ A mob of solid bliss.
    Alas! that frowns could lie in wait
    ___ For such a foe as this!

    ~ Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

    Lines fit to restore modesty to any instructor no matter how worthy, one would think. §;-D

    1. FT,
      Ironically, most of the students who have suffered under my tutelage last year or in years past are excited about the resuming of classes. Go figure! Maybe I've found a pack of masochists?

      Of course, one advantage of the homeschooling plan that I use is that our classes meet only once a week. In between classes, of course, there are mounds of assignments.

  3. Your students are responding to a challenge. Most kids know they're being shortchanged in a government run school, but they don't care because that's just the way most people are.

  4. AOW, Thank you for all you do. Let me say, the book 1984 which I read in high school pre-1970 has stayed with me to this day. If you can fit it in, it might be interesting to see what people think of this prediction for 1984 and do they think it a viable prediction for our future now...

    1. "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it."

      --- George Orwell

      He never forgot Catalonia.

    2. Kid,
      This school term (Literature of Great Britain), 1984 is listed as an optional reading for the book report. I must say, however, that most of my students, particularly 10th-12th graders, have already read Orwell's book.

    3. Animal Farm may have even greater significance, AOW. NO ONE should be permitted to graduate from high school without having read -- and thoroughly DIGESTED -- that brilliant classic.

      At any rate, BOTH works should be dissected, analyzed and thoroughly examined in class. Having 'read' something does NOT mean one has UNDERSTOOD it. I'm sure, as a teacher, you must know that better than most.

      Reading literature is not so much about learning FACTS and being able to discuss plot and character, etc. At its best it's about fostering EMPATHY, nourishing our SOULS, thus improving our OUTLOOK. our CHARACTER, and thus our capacity to relate well to others.

      Wisely selected, benevolently interpreted and righty understood, Literature may function wonderfully well as the handmaiden to Christianity without ever making a single reference to God, the Bible, or to Jesus Christ.

  5. Having arrived in Barcelona on 26 December 1936 Orwell told John McNair, the Independent Labour Party's (ILP) representative there, that he had "come to Spain to join the militia to fight against Fascism." He also told McNair that "he would like to write about the situation and endeavour to stir working class opinion in Britain and France." McNair took him to the POUM barracks, where Orwell immediately enlisted. "Orwell did not know that two months before he arrived in Spain, the [Soviet law enforcement agency] NKVD's resident in Spain, Aleksandr Orlov, had assured NKVD Headquarters, 'the Trotskyist organisation POUM can easily be liquidated'—by those, the Communists, whom Orwell took to be allies in the fight against Franco."

    It's one thing to have your enemies trying to kill you, but Orwell soon found out that his allies, the Communists, were out to kill him too.

  6. For my British Literature I had a very good professor but he was obsessed with those anguished Irish authors. I didn't enjoy the reading half as much as the professor but he was very entertaining and engaging. He especially taught me to look for subtext and hidden meaning which I might otherwise have ignored.


We welcome civil dialogue at Always on Watch. Comments that include any of the following are subject to deletion:
1. Any use of profanity or abusive language
2. Off topic comments and spam
3. Use of personal invective

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.