Month: May 2015

SummerTime

It all begins now. It’s summer. School has ended once again. I got to give my “What every boy needs to know about being a man” speech. It wasn’t that kind of speech at all; I just love to appropriate great lines from “Secondhand Lions” whenever the opportunity presents itself.

(The speech wasn’t deep. Basically, I told them there were two things I could share with them that would make them happier, and that I understood if they didn’t believe me, or if they just didn’t want to buy it from my word, but here the things are: Give people the benefit of the doubt. Also, the decisions you make that come from a place of kindness will not be decisions you regret. You may be sad, be hurt, be heartbroken, even, but you won’t regret.)

And now, summer. I’m going to read 2 books a week. Maybe more. I’m going to get my yard in shape (just a little), and find the sun (it was a very wet spring, and I’ve not seen the sun on my skin yet). I’m going to write. To edit. To walk lots and lots of steps. To plan classes. To play with my kids.

I hope you are having all the happy things this summer, too.

Songs of Themselves

So we did a little Whitman in Junior English. I had them read the first eight sections of “Song of Myself” and respond to it. Many of them liked it, and lots of them hated it. (In their defense, there is a great deal of arrogance there.) When they got to class, we read a bit of it together and then I took them outside. They had to leave all electronics in the classroom. They took a pen and a piece of paper. That’s it. And they sat on the grass and stared. They loafed and gazed at the lawn. They pondered their identity. I made them sit there like that for 15 minutes. If you don’t think that’s a long time, try it. Their bodies fell asleep. They twitched. They hated it, mostly.

And then I had them write a little about their thoughts and identities and all the grasses. They¬†talked about stuff. About how we can step on grass and flatten it, but then we move our feet and it springs back up. How we don’t even notice the dead and dormant grasses even though they’re all around, and maybe that’s like how we don’t see all the groups of people in high school who are unlike us. About how the lawn gets stronger when it’s mowed, kind of like we get stronger when we’re “cut down” by life and the world. About how much grass grows down into the ground at the same time that it grows up toward the sun. About how much hidden life must be inside people if there’s THIS MUCH hidden life inside a cubic inch of lawn.

Then we went back inside and they each wrote the Song of Yourself. They’re lovely, thoughtful people, these juniors. They think thinky thoughts. They even get brave enough to share them out loud in front of each other.

I’m proud of them for sitting still for fifteen minutes and writing with pen on paper. I’m proud of them for pondering identity and Self-ness. I’m getting nostalgic because I may possibly be hitting the home stretch of the school year. But they’re pretty awesome.