As a horrible, horrible semester draws to its close I thought I would make a list of good things that happened to remind myself of why I still teach.
-After submitting a paper in which she expressed her distaste for freeganism, a student decided to investigate for herself and went dumpster diving with a friend. They had great fun and found a perfectly good file cabinet, a set of John Deere tools, and a large bag of unmoldy bagels, among other things. The student enthusiastically showed a video of her adventures to the class.
-For the first time, I taught the story “The Ones Who Walk away from Omelas” by Ursula K. LeGuin. We had a meaningful discussion about America’s “non-negotiable” lifestyle and a former Wal-Mart employee suggested we stage a protest. This was even before the Black Friday trampling tragedy. An article about the story is forthcoming.
-Amidst much groaning and grumbling, I forced students to act out scenes from Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House. Duplicating the scene in which Nora dances a frenetic tarantella for her domineering husband, a middle aged mechanic/Army vet (male) rolled up his pants to show some leg and proceeded to sachet around the classroom shaking my daughter’s toy tambourine. Uproarious laughter ensued. Ah, for the good old Shakespearean days when men played the female leads . . .
-A student cited Ron Paul as a source in a research paper without any prompting, coaxing, or threats from me.
-I taught three Flannery O’Connor stories--as always, some “get” her and some don’t. Flannery (we’re on a first-name basis) always manages to make me laugh, not take myself so seriously, and reminds me that so much of human machination is hogwash. A wise person on the Internet once said that reading Flannery is like waiting at a railroad crossing catching glimpses between train cars of the scenery beyond--you can’t quite make it out, but you know it’s something wonderful and mysterious. Although it wasn’t this semester, one of my finest Hallmark-shed-a-single-tear moments of past ends-of-semesters occurred when a student who was wise beyond her years simply said, “Thanks for the Flannery.” If I meet Flannery in heaven, I doubt I’ll be able to say much except “Thanks for the stories.”