Thursday, May 11, 2006

last writing with first

This blog today is the last writing I did with that marvelous first period class. I read it aloud to them. Later I'll read what they wrote and include some of that.

What I wanted was for us to reflect on the semester, to think about all the poems we read, all the writing we did, all the discussions we had. I loved when we wrote about living in the isthmus after reading Pope's "Essay on Man." And the deeper yes after reading some of the new German Pope's first encyclical on love. How did it happen that such a beautiful group of young men and women would convene at this one place, this one point in time, especially when I was here, and let the world open up a little? Some people believe in dumb luck but I don't. I can't. I don't know why I can't. When beautiful things happen I feel like they're gifts we're being given (not that I know what the giver is) as rewards or as opportunities for lessons or as boosts for us or as times to prepare us for times. This semester with this class has changed me somehow. It reminded me, for one thing, that real education is possible in school. It reminded me that there will be adults out there in the world in the future who think for themselves. It makes me feel safer and somehow like the world is richer knowing that they're out there and I'm richer because they were here for me. It's significant that this would be the first group of students I'd work with after Katrina. Theirs were the first faces I saw who looked toward me to be their teacher. They were the first students since the storm with whom I'd had an opportunity for intellectual inquiry, real serious inquiry, inquiring to the point where we all had to throw up our hands and acknowledge that we didn't know, that we'd gone to the edge of the known and, standing on its narrow ledge, looked into the vast gray whatever. It's circular in that grayness and I know that what happened in here is going to circle through the parts of life we don't know and return to our consciousness having been sparkled with cosmic dust. We'll one day go to a zoo and see a polar bear or a swan or a flamingo or a platypus or a giraffe or a walrus and we'll understand it a little bit differently than we did before and these children will carry on with their lives and experience things that try to crush them but they'll rise and remember and they'll carry all that with them. I hope that it's people like these who will become lawyers and judges and law makers and that they will remember about this Earth and its awesome beauty and power and I hope they'll remember how Pope in his Essay on Man said how things aren't simple when you're a being who wishes to live consciously. And I hope they'll remember about surviving and thriving and that there are people living in their very cities and neighborhoods who only seem to thrive, who just barely survive, and I hope they'll remember that life is hard but can be beautiful and when they go out in the world I hope they'll remember that it's very hard to pull oneself up by the bootstraps and that sometimes people don't have boots. I hope that when they pass judgment they will remember the deeper yes, and about love, and I hope they will look upon the kids, for example, at Douglass High School with compassion and heart.
Anything else? Oh yes. I certainly want to say a huge thank you to the powers that be for giving these people to me these some months (and forever). Amen.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading this last post, I was curious as to who was in your first hour. I figured it was a senior class, and I chose one of my students whom I thought would have been part of that intelligent and caring class. Sure enough when I checked her schedule, she was in your first hour! I bet I could name almost everyone in that class. And they are so special, not only for their minds, but also for their compassion. I think our future is,indeed, very bright.
By the way,I googled Essay On Man and am going to read it. I have a feeling, though,that I may need some advice to understand it. Gee, it's been a while since I read Pope.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the mom of a '1st hour'. He is not the most english minded student, but fell in love with you & your class. Thank you, more than you'll ever know, for being there this semester. You made it possible for my child to learn to like English! Please continue, if not at MHS, somewhere! You make the long lost art of reading a joy for students. Our oldest child learned to write in your class, literally. She had never written a paper or journal before Ms. Plesh. You helped her conquer her fear of the written word. Thank you again!

5:16 PM  
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