memorization

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams

A long time ago,I memorized the last lines of Thanatopsis.
I’m not sure what that memory work taught me.
As an educator I’ve learned that memorization isn’t real learning at all.
And yet today my students had the joy of reciting or writing the First Amendment.
Did it serve a purpose?
I’m not sure.
But it’s something I like to do.
Maybe it’s the sadistic teacher in me.
I still remember the sweaty palms, the nervous practicing, the absolute knowledge that I was going to totally bomb that poem. I don’t remember how I did on it. And to be honest I don’t think I appreciated the lines until I was much older.
I hope my students appreciate the meaning of the First Amendment. I hope they understand how lucky they are to go to a school that lets them exercise those rights.

Hopefully that doesn’t change. But today The Chronicle ended up on the front page of our local paper and that gets everyone a little on the nervous side.
Our big dance of the year was canceled for several reasons including dirty dancing. Not like the movie. More like what you see in topless bars, on MTV and on the occasional episode of The Sopranos.
Our principal was quite candid in his interview with my reporter. He said there weren’t enough faculty chaperons for the dance. After the article ran in Friday’s paper, our coaches decided to take on the role of dance chaperons and the dance is back on. It’s a win-win situation. The kids learned to be proactive. To solve problems in a positive way. They get their dance. The story got picked up by the local paper today. Front page. It was actually a pretty positive story, except the parts where the other local high school principals said they didn’t have dirty dancing at their dances. (ahahahahahaha)
But then a local radio station got involved. Not good. Not fun. And I’m getting to teach a whole new kind of First Amendment lesson. 😦

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