Tuesday, January 03, 2006

There Are Days I Love Teaching

Another blogger, whose joyous posts about her first year as corporate-exile-turned-teacher are great fun to read, inspired me in the last day or two with her resolution to be more reflective about her teaching. Herewith, therefore (ah, yes; old lawyers never die):

1. For the rest of this week I'll be teaching the eighth graders about Puritan settlements. I wanted something a bit more primary-sourcey than what I used last year, so today I decided to google something like "New England village + map." I found the most marvelous lesson plan based on the layout of Deerfield, Massachusetts, a town settled in the 18th century by the Congregationalist descendants of the Puritans, with terrific plat maps and illustrations of the sort of houses I once expected to live in (although I personally was aiming for Williamstown or Little Compton). Deerfield Academy is the archrival of my own boarding school, and the layout of the town is not dissimilar to that of the town of Northfield that I know so well, complete with river and long, narrow lots. Reading through the material was like going home again. When you go to school in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which I did for 7.5 years, you tend to pick up a lot of New England literature and history -- in fact, you leave the area under the impression that, with the possible exception of Yeats and Eliot, there has been no literature of note since the Transcendentalist era, and no architecture worth discussing since the houses on Benefit Street in Providence were erected. So I am loving this little visit to Deerfield upon which my 8th graders are about to embark.
2. A group of us from church (where I am the adult education elder) are making a trip in July to the tiny island of Iona in western Scotland. It has developed that a young lady formerly of our church, now a student at Harvard, spent her last semester working on Iona, and so I have asked her to speak to our little group this Sunday. What's particularly fun for me is that I have known her since she and my sons were three-year-old Montessori preschoolers together -- in our church building, in fact. It's an experience to realize that the brillant and poised young New England scholar you have invited as a guest speaker is someone whom you knew when she spent her mornings pouring water and building the pink tower.
One of the best things about teaching is the connections across generations and geography.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, Robin. And I am glad you are looking forward to visiting my home country. I have never been to Iona, but I know it is a very spiritual place, filled with old Celtic lore.

BTW - Yeats rules!

Warmly, Vicky

Paul said...

Iona...sometimes thought to have been the mythical Colmekill, sometimes even Avilion. I will be in Scotland in April.

Kathryn said...

As a committed scotch drinker, I need to visit Scotland. May I please stowaway in your luggage? The islands would be my first choice.

We were in New England just after Christmas visiting family. It is home and a touchstone. Would you please send a link to the website with the lesson plan? I think you need to schedule a field trip to Deerfield.

Tess said...

Simple pleasures bring smiles and confidence! Good luck with the 8th graders and get a fond hug from the accomplished young lady!

Another Lisa! said...

A trip to Scotland? Lucky you! I think it might shape up to be a very good year.