Posts Tagged ‘literature’

6 Reasons Why Reading Literature Matters More than Ever

January 9, 2016

Obviously as a writer and English teacher I would believe and promote this statement: that reading books matters. But why more than ever you may ask?

GG

Well, as we also know the world has turned very dark – threats, lies, rampant untruths, offence, dissent, violence and death abound. We are bombarded with a litany of disasters every day on the news – wherever we get it – and while some might argue it is no worse than it has ever been it simply does seem to be worse. Our senses are assaulted almost minute by minute by the latest disaster, the latest atrocity.

Indeed, Ted Turner (winner of the Sydney-Hobart Yacht race and the America’s Cup, but significantly here, the man who brought us CNN) has a lot to answer for in making the news a 24 hour event – giving us trash and trivia as well as doom and disaster on a never-ending loop.

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There are six compelling reasons why reading literature is more important than ever:

1.Escapism. Have you noted the rise of thrillers, fantasy, erotica and romance? They are all escapist fiction, allowing us to enter a world nothing like ours, where we can forget the rest of the world, its ugly big problems and our own worrying smaller problems. Other fiction has the same effect – we like to immerse ourselves in different worlds, escaping to the problems of others, which invariably make us feel a bit better about our own life. Series fiction is so popular because of this – we get caught up in the characters’ lives and we want to stay with them for as long as possible. (Yes, films too, and Peter Jackson understands this better than almost anyone else on the planet!)

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2.Truth. There is, to be clichéd, more truth in fiction than anywhere else. Writers of fiction are freer to tell their truth through stories and characters, than reporters and journalists. Through stories we learn the truth of relationships, of how the world works, how things don’t tie up in neat bows – think of Jay Gatsby, Gone Girl, Madame Bovary. Great Expectations tells us how foolish it is to hold onto bitterness all your life – that it kills you.

3.Knowledge. We can learn about things in fiction – how the world was – history and bits of it, how different cultures operate, how people behaved in certain eras and that some behaviours were okay then but not now. Think of Of Mice and Men, where Crooks is called the n* word repeatedly which leads to a discussion of how racism works and how language shifts and changes. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas tells us about the idiocy of the Holocaust. Xavier Herbert tells of the challenges and problems of life in early northern Australia in Capricornia. Hilary Mantel gave us a whole new insight into Tudor times and Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall.

pal studying

4.Thinking intelligently. Reading good literature that explores ideas and issues – like The Life of Pi, The Slap, The Narrow Road to the Deep North, The Kite Runner, The Satanic Verses, 1984, Lord of the Flies, etc – challenges our views of the world. Reading makes us think and consider ideas that make us feel uncomfortable, enable us to accept different views of the world – which is vitally important at the moment. Discussing ideas and searching for the evidence in the text to support our ideas enables us to think at a deeper level, it takes us from the emotional response to the considered intellectual response – which we really need at the moment. Which is why literature in schools cannot be under-rated.

5.Reading makes us better people. You may laugh, but there are several studies that show that people who read fiction – especially literary fiction, where the writing and ideas are more complex – are more empathetic, more attuned to others, and more successful in their careers and relationships.

6.Reading is a simple pleasure. Reading is one of life’s best bits. You can do it anywhere, anytime. It pleases me to travel on the trains and see the amount of people reading – novels, kindles and the papers. Reading is cheap and easy – it needs nothing special for it to work – just you and the book and a comfy space. Do it now!

Life Happens

Reading teaches us how to think, how to move beyond our own experience, how to engage with the world in a considered, thoughtful way. People who don’t read really are missing out on so many things. Parents who do not encourage – no, parents who do not MAKE their children read should be put in jail. Reading fiction – picture books as kidlets, then the various age appropriate books (see previous blogs for books for various ages) on the way to bone fide adult fiction – is not something to be brushed over or given up at the end of primary school. It is a vital experience, an essential skill for life.

Let me make this crystal clear: reading makes you a better, more rounded, educated and thoughtful person. And we desperately need more thinking people in the world today.

What are you reading these days? Are you reading or have you stopped too? (Images from Private Collection)

Dreams – why you need them

April 26, 2014

Dreams have many uses in our lives – they help us to sleep and keep us healthy; they help us process the nonsense of our days; and they keep us alive, they give us hope and keep us going, moving forwards, not stagnating in the morass of nothingness.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who sadly died this week, was a man of words, wisdom and dreams – some of his stuff had to have come from his night-time visions. He has this wonderful, oft quoted point – “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”

Dreams have played a large part in the world we know. Here’s a few reasons why dreams should not be dismissed as romantic ramblings of useless losers, as the acerbic and altogether too cynical, Scaramouche had it of Galileo’s desire to share his dreams in We Will Rock You.

Literature, Film & Art

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Much of Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry came from dreams – Dream-land and A Dream within a Dream

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Misery & Dreamcatcher by Stephen King

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Terminator by James Cameron

Inception by Christopher Nolan

Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali

Music – from and about

Yesterday by Paul McCartney came from a dream

No 9 Dream by John Lennon – came from a dream

Dreams by Fleetwood Mac

Dream Baby by Roy Orbison

All I have to do is Dream by the Everly Brothers

I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables

Dream On by Aerosmith, etc

Science

Einstein’s theory of relativity came from a dream about electrocuting cows, or alternatively about sledding down a sleep mountainside!

Descartes apparently came to the scientific method forma dream where he was in a whirlwind pursued by ghosts, while craving melons

Kekule (1800s) had two dreams that led to significant discoveries in organic chemistry – about a snake seizing its own tail which led to the discovery of Benzene

Elias Howe (1845) invented the sewing machine after a dream about being a prisoner of natives who had holes in the tips of their spears

deviot road

 

And…

Abraham Lincoln foretold his own death in a dream. Google came from a dream Larry Page had when he was 23. Insulin was discovered in a dream, as was x-ray vision and Hannibal based his battle strategy against the Romans on his dreams. And one of the most famous speeches of all times beings: “I had a dream…”

We can take on this inspiration as our own. We can let our dreams do some of the hard work that consumes our waking moments, let the back of the brain sort through the mess, find solutions, offer new ways of thinking and being. We may not have world shattering breakthroughs but we can solve the bits of our life that won’t co-operate in the harsh light of day. I find my writing – academic and creative – benefits enormously from dreams and baths!

deviot jetty

Keep your own dreams alive. However small they may be, they are your inspiration, what keeps you going. To deny dreams is to deny hope, deny the future. Okay, so you’re not Brad Pitt (as Shania Twain once said) but you can dream and hope and make plans for a big and wonderful future. To deny dreams is to deny yourself. Dreams let you into your inner most fears and hopes and desires. You need to go there once in a while because at the end of the day the only true knowledge is self knowledge and self knowledge lets you dream big and true.

So get your little dream journal out, sleep well and catch those fragments before they evaporate in the daylight and see where they might lead you… (Images from Private Collection)

A reading list for starters…

September 14, 2013

Some years ago E.D Hirsch made his recommendations about what US kiddies should know and we all know Gove is following a similar route with his new curriculums, prescribing what students must know by certain ages. Let me be less prescriptive and suggest a reading list – by no means exhaustive – of the novels and stories children should read on their way through school. And you should catch up on as well!

A good starting point for reading what is considered good quality are the short lists for the various literary prizes, eg The Booker, Miles Franklin, Pulitzer and YA prizes. Go to past years and see what’s there. The internet proliferates with lists of 50 best of… so check them out too.

Let’s remember why reading is important

1.Reading teaches us about language, about syntax, vocabulary, sentence structures and text cohesion – it is invaluable in learning how to write effectively. A good reader becomes a good writer. When language (or grammar) skills are taught explicitly the child already has something to hook the new learning into, something to contextualise the knowledge so it makes sense and is ‘absorbed’ into the growing skill base.

2.Reading teaches us about the world – we learn facts, we learn about places and events, we learn about who we are and how we operate in the world. This is as true of fiction as it is of non-fiction, of factual texts.

3.Reading teaches us about how to be human. There is a lovely body of evidence that shows that the fiction readers amongst us are more in tune with others, more empathetic and able to understand other people, their emotions and motivations.

4.Reading also helps develop concentration, the ability to focus on one task for an extended time, which we all need to do, especially students in school and given the alarmingly range of short snappy distractions in this modern world we need a way to develop concentration skills. Twenty-thirty minutes a day is not a lot of time but it may be the best use of half an hour there is!!

5.Reading is also an immensely pleasurable task – personal, private, portable, cheap. A life without reading really is an impoverished life, regardless of all the above reasons.

 

A beginning non-comprehensive reading list:

Early Years – Pre-school & Primary

The caveat being that you MUST read to your child every day. And then you MUST listen to them when they begin to read. Reading together is the act that shows both love and the importance of reading to you both. I would suggest that you buy books as presents – always one for birthdays and Christmas. This simple act builds reading and books into young people’s lives as a natural and normal thing.

wind in w

Myths and Legends from across the world – Greek and Roman, Arthurian, Aboriginal, Chinese, etc. There are a range of versions from picture books through to the originals – begin gently

Bible stories – again children’s versions, Moses, The Ark, Exodus, Jesus and his miracles, etc

Spot books – a family favourite

Picture books – many coming out all the time – look for areas of interest and presentation of content and illustrations

Enid Blyton – The Far Away Tree is still lovely

Winnie the Pooh

Paddington Bear

The Wind in the Willows

Peter Pan

Alice in Wonderland & other Lewis Carroll works, do not forget Jabberwocky

Ogden Nash poetry

Snugglepot and Cuddle Pie, The Magic Pudding (Australia)

Goosebumps series – wonderful for learning how to read independently

A Wizard of Earthsea

Chronicles of Narnia

The Hobbit

The Jungle Book

Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stephenson

 

Middle Years – 12-15

Some of this list will be taught in school as part of the English curriculum. This list and the one for 16+ will be wholly dependent on your child and their ability and interest. But what I am stressing here is more of the classics than much modern stuff – which isn’t to say that The Hunger Games and Alex Rider books aren’t worth reading, just that you need to keep an eye out for quality, so your child has a rich reading experience.

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One Dickens – Oliver or Great Expectations

Harry Potter, much as I hate to admit it – they are now loaded with cultural and social references – but go to The Lord of the Rings for the original references!

Shakespeare – poetry, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet

Lord of the Flies – a bit dated now but worth a read

To Kill a Mockingbird

Animal Farm and 1984 – you cannot escape Orwell and these are essential to understanding our modern world and how we fit in it

Brave New World – worth a look

Some Agatha Christie – the original queen of crime – Murder in Mesopotamia

Some Hemingway

Steinbeck – Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath

 

Later Years – 16+

This really is classics land and only a sample of what is possible – many writers have a range of texts to choose from. But these texts – novels, short stories and poems will inform the rest of your reading and connect you to a range of experiences, times, cultures and societies and that’s what reading is meant to do!

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Frankenstein

Dracula

Robinson Crusoe

Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Pride and Prejudice

A Clockwork Orange

The Romantic Poets – Keats, Byron, Shelley

Hamlet, King Lear, Julius Cesar

 

Classic Poetry

cant tales

L’Morte D’Arthur

The Canterbury Tales

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Under Milk Wood

The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock

 

Classic European Novels

candide

Candide

All Quiet on the Western Front – if you are going to read a war novel then this is it – or see below – Catch 22??

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovick

Anna Karenina or War and Peace

The Brothers Karimazov

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Les Miserables

Madame Bovary

Don Quixote

 

Classic American Novels

catch22

Catch 22 – perhaps the best anti-war novel ever written

Catcher in the Rye

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

On the Road

Moby Dick

The Last of the Mohicans

The Sound and the Fury

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn – there must be some Mark Twain!

The Great Gatsby

Maus, Night – Eli Weisel

+ Edgar Allan Poe short stories

+ Margaret Atwood, who is Canadian, lest we forget that country!

 

African Literature*

things fall

Things Fall Apart

Doris Lessing – novels and stories, especially Through the Tunnel

 

South American Literature*

100 years

100 Hundred Years of Solitude

Like Water for Chocolate

House of the Spirits

*I know I have just ignored the countries for the sake of the continents but please forgive and/or add more books!

 

Classic Australian Novels

illywhacker

Schindler’s List, Thomas Kenneally

Bliss and Illywhacker, Peter Carey

Cloudstreet, Tim Winton

Capricornia, Xavier Herbert

My Brilliant Career, Miles Franklin

For the Term of His Natural Life, Marcus Clarke

The Well, Elizabeth Jolley

Lillian’s Story, Kate Grenville

For Love Alone, Christina Stead

Maestro, Peter Goldsworthy

Gould’s Book of Fish, Richard Flanagan

The Eye of the Storm, Patrick White

See also: http://blog.booktopia.com.au/2011/01/11/50-must-read-australian-novels-as-voted-by-you-in-2010/

 

Classic Indian Novels

midnight's children

A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy

Midnight’s Children and any other Salman Rushdie

+ VS Naipaul

 

Chinese Literature

woman warrior

The Woman Warrior – Maxine Hong Kingston

Wild Swans

1000 Paper Cranes

 

There is so much more than this – it is just a start. Yes, I have read most of these and the ones I haven’t read are on my bookshelf and my to read list. There are many wonderful modern novels and stories out there too, don’t ignore them. Remember this is a list to enable you to better enjoy and understand what you do read. Popular culture is full of references to stories and people from literature. Where would we be without George Orwell and Big Brother???
What would you add? (Book cover images courtesy Google Images)

Why I Won’t Be Seeing Luhrmann’s Gatsby

May 18, 2013

The reviews are coming in thick and fast and the response is mixed but Baz Luhrmann’s latest epic, his re-imagining of The Great Gatsby is hauling in the loot and that’s what matters. It may have cost $125 million but it’s first weekend made $51 Million, so that’s not a rubbish start and and judging by the amount of reaction it will only enhance Luhrmann’s reputation as one of our more eccentric and inspired movie makers of out time. Besides the critics have always been divided about films of Gatsby and about Luhrmann, so why the surprise about the range of response now.

 GG new

Australians will remember the delightful Strictly Ballroom that launched his career. Then there was the wonderfully extravagant Moulin Rouge and the utterly inspired Romeo and Juliet, with DiCaprio at his youthful exuberant best. Perhaps Australia, Luhrmann’s take on the Aussie classic, Capricornia, was a bit much for some. Certainly his Darwin (my beloved home for many years) bore no resemblance to my Darwin. But in the end it was quite an enjoyable film (thank you, Hugh Jackman), if a bit long.

Now, after all the hype, the on-going delays and expectations, we have The Great Gatsby. It seems, like Romeo and Juliet, it is Luhrmann’s version of the story, not exactly faithful to the original. This shouldn’t matter really: the film of the novel/story/play does not have to be a faithful representation. (But you must tell the students otherwise they will refer to the film and not the book – Of Mice and Men is classic in this department.)

The Great Gatsby is one of the classic texts taught across the world to senior English students, so a new version will sit on the top of English teachers’ lists of films to see and DVD’s to buy. Just as he did with Romeo and Juliet, a thousand classrooms across the world are saved from out-dated 70s film versions of literary classics. So, well done, Baz, that will be helpful. Perhaps you could do something outrageous with Macbeth – that would be good.

But this is the thing – there can be only One. And usually it is the One you saw or read first. So for me, the One is the 1974 version of the film with Robert Redford in that beautiful pink suit, on that verdant green lawn, in that fantasia of a house, yearning for the superficial, luminous Mia Farrow as Daisy. I can’t get past Bruce Dern as Tom Buchanan, or Tom Waterston as Nick.

RF as GG 

In fact the main reason I won’t be going off to the movies to watch Luhrmann’s latest lavish extravaganza is about the actors. I guess I am showing my age, and being resistant to modernization of one of my favourite novels. In fact, I think it IS my favourite novel. Perhaps that’s why I won’t go too, I don’t want my version – true with Mr Redford as Gatsby – messed around by Luhrmann’s take on Fitzgerald’s work.

I don’t want my favourite book bastardised by some lurid remake that renders the book impossible for me to read again for a number of years as all my images and feelings will be obliterated by Luhrmann. The Great Gatsby is defined by a lightness of touch, of writing that is exquisite, that inspires the writer in me. It’s the best put together 50,000 words in the English language. I don’t want Luhrmann’s focus on excess and garishness to over-take that. It was the same years ago with The English Patient, another of my favourite books, also exquisitely written. I could not watch the film until quite some time had elapsed and I could accept the film version alongside the story in my head, such that one version did not destroy the other.

 RF & Mia

Just as Gatsby is Robert Redford, and not Jack Nicholson, who reportedly was considered for the role, bringing out the darker, less romantic side of Jay the bootlegger and man of dubious origins, so DiCaprio is forever Romeo. I can’t watch DiCaprio trying to be Gatsby. I know he is a wonderful actor and I have enjoyed his skills in many other films, but I want him to remain that gorgeous youth, not that gorgeous man. It’s perverse, I’m sure but I want Gatsby to be Redford forever, and not mussed about by being DiCaprio.

 Leo as Romeo

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, I saw the 1974 film with someone I loved immensely, in all the idiocy of teenage passion, and when I watch Redford and Farrow I remember how I felt all those years ago. And you know, I don’t want to have that taken away from me. (Images are film stills taken from Google Images)

Endings are as important as Beginnings- in writing & life

April 8, 2013

As writers we know we must begin with a bang, something that the reader/agent/publisher/examiner can’t resist. We want impact, engagement, originality to make the audience want to read this little bit, this taster and then to read on, to enjoy the banquet of eloquence set down before them.

In fact, we want this as we begin new parts of our life too. We prepare for hours for a night out, a party, the first date. We do the same for a job interview, for the first day at our new workplace, school or university. We research, we plan, we prepare. We want to be liked, loved, chosen. We know we have to begin as we mean to go on – that you only get the one go to make that vital first impression.

snoopy

And, if we’re lucky, if we’ve worked hard enough (because it is more about work than luck and more young people need to get hold of this simple idea) then we will prevail. We will have made the mark we want to make and not look back.

For a while anyway…

Ask any writer and they’ll tell you that writing the book is the easy bit, getting it published and read – getting it out there – is the hard bit. Ask anyone who’s been married for more than five minutes and they’ll tell you staying married, sticking at it, is the hard bit. Marriage takes work. Being successful in your job takes work too – riding the waves of success, surviving the troughs of disaster. It’s the middle of the essay where the big marks are. It’s the keeping going that shows who we are – tenacious, smart, flexible, resilient. The middle is the hard part where you can see the shore, you’re swimming towards it but the current sweeps you away, or a storm confounds you, or the sharks keep circling you want to stop or leave but must keep going, because usually the rewards are worth it. Remember Odysseus, his long journey home after the battle at Troy; remember the transition stage of delivery, when you can’t go back but a few more pushes, a sniff of gas and there is your beautiful baby.

Odysseus

 

And then there are the endings…

For some time now I’ve been teaching my beloved charges about the strength of their openings but not without attention to the importance of ending well. The examiner needs to be sucked in, but then she has to be reminded of the quality of the writing by a sound, memorable ending. Novels too must end effectively and leave the reader satisfied, wondering, uncertain – a range of emotional possibilities but they must feel something. As long as it’s not disappointment. A novelist’s job is to craft and work those words and sentences so that their message, their idea is left reverberating long after the reading has gone. As Edgar Allan Poe almost said: leave the reader feeling something, and as if their time was well spent. Sometimes it’s easier to begin with your ending and work backwards. Knowing how to end your novel can be as important as how to start it. I struggled with my latest effort (Ophelia, for my study) with the first couple of full drafts ending with a limp, wet ending that even I didn’t like. It took until draft 4 to get an ending that resonates, that has emotional impact and now I’m back to the beginning.

But too often we don’t have control over our endings. Relationships fail and we walk away too easily without thinking through the consequences of that failure. An ending that could have been avoided? Perhaps we should have talked more, taken more notice of the other one, been more considerate, more involved, less angry and selfish? More of us should think of the damage from discarding a relationship too easily – what are we left with? Debts, broken homes, damaged children, debilitating loneliness? Before you end a relationship make sure you’re doing so for the right reasons, because there is violence or abuse, because you have done all you can to make it work and you’ve thought through the next step: you’ve planned your ending, so you have an idea of the steps you will have to take towards making a positive new beginning.

What of work, when that sours, what do you do? Do you plan your exit as carefully as you planned your interview, your first day? Work can be a treacherous place and just like a relationship it can be very tricky to call the ending effectively. But to resign in temper, to go sick or stressed indefinitely is no way to end a job. Where is your dignity, your self respect, your ability to get another job and you will need one. Don’t act in haste, consider what is right about your job, what needs changing and where your best options lie. Like moving house or remodelling the existing one, the choices are never that cut and dried. Plan your work exit as carefully, if not moreso, as your beginning. Reputation matters. Leave things completed, leave on good terms (as far as is possible); say goodbye and leave any nastiness to someone else. This is about dignity and self respect. Marriage the same – it does you no good to end on a speech replete with spleen and bile. Go in peace, the quiet dignified way so you can begin again with your own integrity in tack.

ending

Endings are the doorway to new beginnings. Just because you change jobs doesn’t mean you won’t remain in contact with those people, especially if you remain in the same industry: you may need to call upon them one day. Divorced parents need to remain civil for their children’s sake, if nothing else: and you can build a whole new relationship as some of the pressures that pushed you apart fade away. Some people  re-marry! Leaving home for the first time is an ending but it is the beginning of a whole new life. You don’t want to slam the metaphorical door on your parents, do you?   After all, the way the world is you may meet or need your past again. None of us can see the future well enough to burn all our bridges…

 

And finally, the ultimate ending…

Go out as you want. Death stalks us all and it isn’t ghoulish to plan your own funeral. In fact I think it is a thoughtful thing to do for your loved ones, who in their grief (we hope!) will be relieved of the burden of guessing what you want. So make plans – pick your music – a bit of Highway to Hell if you must, choose your flowers, pick the poetry you want read, opt for a Viking funeral if you want, decide on the casket, book the church or which ever venue suits you. Pick the headstone and epitaph too – actually I would NOT leave this to others. Plan it as meticulously as anything else – make it the best ending ever, not forgetting to cater for the after party where your loved ones can drink your booze, eat your canapés and lament your passing. After all you want your family and friends to know you’ve gone!

viking f

Remember, beginnings matter for a whole range of areas, things where you are in control. But can you remember how you came into the world? Is there anyone left who was there? You may not ‘be’ at your own ending but you can be in control of it and make sure you are remembered as you want.

Life and stories – beginnings, middles and endings – over and over, again and again. (Images courtesy Google Images)

This Teaching Life

March 25, 2012

Having just vowed not to blog but to get down to some real writing – ie the bloody book – I stumbled upon this old thought about teaching and even though it’s not the end of the Summer holidays (but Easter break beckons) there are some things worth remembering here about this really quite noble profession.

This Teaching Life

It always happens about half way into the long summer holidays, the pains and joys of the last year having subsided, the terrors and fears of the New Year begin to threaten the horizon. Yes, I am a high school teacher. And right on cue, it seems I dive for the classifieds looking for alternative career paths. This is the time I look at B&Bs and Pubs across the country and wonder if we could make it work. I consider exotic foreign (well paid) postings and day-dream about retiring – alas, still too many years away.

But what I’ve done this year, as well as my regular desperate search for ways out of the profession, is compile a list of the things that make it all worthwhile. In most matters in life, especially such things as work and such impossible things as Education, it’s best to see the glass as filling up, not draining away. It helps focus my mind on the good things about teaching and kids: of which there are many.

  1. Two of the best texts I’ve come across in recent years have been through student recommendation. Jess R reviewed Donnie Darko in such an intriguing way that I was compelled to watch it. Heidi C insisted I read The Lovely Bones. I delayed and delayed, until after she had finished school in fact, but when I finally read it I was blown away, as she knew I would be.

I am reminded that students teach me things too.

  1. The best poetry I have read in years was by an anonymous Year 12 student whose writing gave me goose bumps with her exquisite handling of language and subject matter. She was better than I could ever hope to be.
  2. I couldn’t stand Tim in year 9 and I had written the worst report of my life for him. But he became the intellectual giant of my year 10 class and has signed up for my Senior English class this year. I can’t wait.
  3. Seeing the light of understanding come on – Tony Q when he saw Media Watch and A Current Affair and saw exactly how the media manipulated the truth
  4. Having the plumber turn up to fix the hot water system and finding he loved Macbeth five years ago with you, so you’re guaranteed a good job
  5. Having kids smile and wave at you, shout out Hey Swiftie, whether off the back of a bus, in the mall or the gym
  6. Having kids change lines to be in your class
  7. Having kids list your class as one of their favourites in their valedictory book
  8. Knowing that while you don’t connect with some kids, with many of them you do make a difference
  9. Knowing that there’s a lot of rubbish in Education but that in the classroom it’s still about relevant information, being entertaining; plus a consistent set of expectations and consequences
  10. Remembering that 95% of kids just want to be liked and get on with their lives. School is a necessary evil for most of us.

I know that teaching is an undervalued occupation in society these days and yes, I’d like more money but being with young people on a daily basis gives me great hope for the future. There are some wonderful, intelligent, generous, kind, funny, caring teenagers in this country (Australia and the UK) and it is a cliché, but teaching can be a rewarding job where you do make a difference.