News From Tom:

December 21, 2012

My dream class, Literary Criticism, concludes. Personal anthologies, by heart poems, gut reactions and brain papers are in! I’ve performed around 88 pieces and we’ve tried to honor all four waves of poetic evolution from the traditional to the experimental. It has been a real pleasure to teach these 14 juniors and seniors and begin 4 out of 5 mornings a week with them doing what I like to do best. I thank them for giving me more confidence in ballad work. Thank you also to Roger Pfingston for sharing his wise work with us.

My fifth period class, Learner and the Learning Process also concludes although I will offer it for eighth through eleventh grade next semester. This (language arts or social studies credit) class has grown from material I couldn’t include in Depth Psychology to being documentary-oriented. Students read at least one novel and write a paper as well as completing other written responses to the films we watch. Our roster included: American Teen, Devil’s Playground, Seven Years in Tibet, Goya’s Ghosts, Freakonomics, Food, Inc., Generation Rx, Food for the Ancestors, Confederate States of America, Brother From Another Planet, K-Pax and A Voyage to Arcturus.

My Greek & Latin Roots class completed 6 chapter tests with excellent results, everyone working very hard with many semester averages in the 90%’s! A student from years ago came up to me at the Winter Farmers Market just today and thanked me for this class’s impact on her. Unless you know the origin of the dance, how can you dance the dance? Etymology is language turning its ear to itself. We will continue our ancient listening next semester.

Ninth Grade American English students fill me with joy by doing so well on weekly and cumulative vocabulary and grammar tests. They have been very patient with the less-fascinating aspects of language mechanics and can feel proud of accomplishing and learning more in one semester than previous classes. This immersion process was aided by extending the class into afternoon advisory time as well as the students’ willingness to try out new things. So far, we’ve watched The Right Stuff, Apollo 13 and 2001: A Space Odyssey! I’m still deciding what directions we’ll take next semester.

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