New shoes


Yes, that one.

I know I’ve mentioned that my sophomore class is a new prep, and that I’m teaching some texts I’ve either never taught before (The Canterbury Tales, in a fairly inert translation), or never taught in high school (Macbeth, awesome as always).  We’re about to embark upon a great English epic…by a writer who was a child when Shakespeare died…I’m sure you know the one I mean.

Until a few weeks ago, I had not opened this book for about 25 years.  I spent maybe six weeks on it in a college class in which I failed to be enchanted by it, and that’s all.  I know some of the writer’s shorter poetry, but I’d never gone back to this.

Come to think of it, this is where I was with the Odyssey when I came to SA–they had read the first eight books when I got there, and I had read it in college but not given it much of a thought since.  By the time I stopped teaching ninth grade, I’d read it maybe six times and come to love reading it with that level.  I am actually a little more ashamed of not knowing PL better, given that it’s a major English poem, than I was of not remembering the Odyssey that well.  (We read the Fitzgerald translation in college, but I fell in love with the Robert Fagles translation we use at SA.)

It’s awkward knowing that this will probably be my clumsiest pass through PL, but exciting, too.  I’m really going to get to know this poem–or at least, at first, the parts we have them read.  I’ve been reading and preparing, and thinking about which paths in I want to take with them; I’ve also been reviewing materials prepared by Lucinda, Dinah, and even things that Viola (now working at the place that made her the offer) left behind on our shared drive, and I’m totally going to cannibalize Dinah’s PowerPoint, but I’ll be doing a lot of inventing as we go along, too.

I did finish grading all my exams yesterday, which has made today much, much more pleasant, although I did have to chime in on an issue that Orsino and Lucinda were dealing with on the matter of curving their shared multiple choice section.  And with the end of my one-semester overload, I get an extra free period this semester!  It’s just a case of dropping back to my regular workload, so I’m sure it will soon come to seem normal, but for a week or two, at least, I expect to savor it.

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Bardiac on January 19, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    PL’s definitely got its glories, but CT! I bet you’re going to have a BLAST with that!

    How long will you have for PL? For each Tale?


    • Posted by meansomething on January 20, 2016 at 4:22 am

      We did CT near the beginning of the year and it was okay, but the translation really was a drag. Any ideas on what to do about that? It is the Bantam Classics edition. We did the GP and the Knight’s, Miller’s, Reeve’s, Wife of Bath’s, and Franklin’s.

      PL is scheduled to take almost 6 weeks, from now ’til late February. Rousing start today.


      • Posted by Bardiac on January 20, 2016 at 2:55 pm

        I spend the first day on PL on the first sentence. But I bet your students have read an epic or two, so they’ve probably got the invocation idea already! Exciting!

        Bad translations are frustrating. Can you make copies of a couple of passages from your Riverside (or whatever) and play with those in class? They’d have the translation, but you can give them a sense of the language and such?

        I have a really hard time seeing the value of teaching the GP as a semi stand alone. I’d focus on the characters whose tales you’ll read later, on the game, and on the cut, I guess?

      • Posted by meansomething on January 21, 2016 at 5:09 am

        We do have a facing translation, at least, thank goodness, so I am able to read to them in ME and have them follow along, even try it themselves and pick out words they recognize. I agree, not much point in doing the whole GP as a stand-alone.

        We did the first 26 lines today, so not that far off from what you do!

  2. When I started teaching 9th grade in my second year at FGS, I had *never* read The Odyssey before and was a basketcase about it! But having taught it 5 times, I also now love it (although I dropped it this year, not out of waning affections but because I wanted that time to do some other things).

    And enjoy going back to your regular load! I did that at the start of January, and it feels soooo good!


    • Posted by meansomething on January 20, 2016 at 4:23 am

      My first period tomorrow will be free because of going down to my regular load. I’m so excited!


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