For over a century, we have lived in a mass-media culture. In the latter half of the 19th century, the major mass media–books, magazines, and newspapers–took the form of the printed word. Soon, audiovisual media came to prominence as well–cinema, records, radio, and television. The internet has brought us digital manipulations of some extant media–particularly [...]
Classical Music: Fauré’s Canticle de Jean Racine
For many of us, music has profound evocative power. I have written before of my fondness for classical music in particular, a taste for which my grandfather–and to a lesser degree, my father–imparted to me during my high school and college years. I have listened primarily to classical music for roughly three decades. I have [...]
A Brief Observation About the Best Teachers
The most effective teachers have a manner of engaging students that would make their class content seem incidental.
We sail to our sanctuaryOn Wednesdays and SaturdaysWe peel and chop on the eastern beachAnd carry our fare to the south endFor exquisite preparation.And while it warms, We spread a towel on the western edgeAnd place olives in cold, tiny glassesAnd stir our spiritsWith the long spoon of discovery.But always, always,We sip from our glassesAt [...]
The Elusive Formula
I find it ironic that I am a teacher–that I, of all people, would have lessons to impart to young people. I understand that I know things, particularly things that are related to writing, linguistics, and literary theory. My studies and pursuits have given me an understanding of my field that goes mostly unapplied to [...]
A Word to Teach Our Young–Idle
Language is our framework not merely for communicating but for perceiving and understanding. Our popular culture hardly promotes eloquence, and we have lost many words that informed the sensibilities of previous generations. As old-fashioned as some of them sound, introducing them to young people and reinforcing their meanings can add richness and resolution to their [...]
Students Love to Help, Part V
Students are the celebrity draw that can galvanize an entire community. We see this in part when families crowd auditoriums for school concerts and plays, and when they cheer at athletic events. Indeed, such occasions put on display a school’s important function in developing students’ potential beyond classroom learning. Classroom learning, however, also merits public [...]
Students Love to Help, Part IV
Today’s students, fairly or unfairly, possess the only hope for changing the social trends that their parents and their culture have enabled, and they need the help of teachers and other adults in order to prepare for the task.
Enlightened it is to value our blessings, to savor a connection to that which sustains us. But profound suffering results from hopeless attachment to that which is past.
I lament that our culture in many ways has set itself against elegance. We seem to shun it–even to fear it. The rise of inelegance–in humor, in our speech, in musical lyrics–makes me sad. To be sure, I reject the pretentious as much as anyone else. But perhaps inelegance has become the new pretension. Perhaps [...]