I first encountered Mr. Albert Finn in the spring of 1986; I was on a visit to the Governor’s Academy and sat in on a freshman English seminar. I don’t remember the lesson, but I remember Finn’s Corgi was in the room, and I thought, I like a man who brings his dog to class—and I really like a school where the teachers, or masters as TGA calls them—bring their dogs to class.
That fall, I enrolled in Finn’s class properly. He didn’t bring his dog, but he brought his voice, his presence, and his passion every day. He introduced me to Homer, Dickens, Shakespeare, Goldsmith, Eliot, Yeats, Wright, Salinger, Angelou, Burroughs, Lee, … the list goes on.
He was a big man—Falstaffian—with a face like A.A. Milne’s Owl’s in its world-weary intelligence, its disdain for the facile and the boring, the already done, but without Owl’s or Falstaff’s braggadocio. He wanted something new from each new student, but knew that not as many as he’d like would provide it. He despised intellectual laziness, and wore life’s disappointments like heavy cloak. I don’t think he was a cynic, but I think he knew the lure of cynicism well.
He taught me many things that I still use as a reader and writer, but more importantly, I use things he taught me in my career as an English teacher.
I hope to leave such a legacy.
No, not really. I had a good day. Had lunch with J, then drove the 2 hours to [redacted]. Did some reading there, tumblr’d, met some prospective grad students who are all teachers in the public schools and seem nice and dedicated to their careers. I.e., motivated to pass the classes, but not necessarily super enthusiastic about the literature I want to teach. We’ll see.
Then I drove the 2 hours home, ate 1/2 of a calzone from last night, and now I’m watching Chelsea/ManU (no spoilers please) and going to nurse a small, very small, Pappy 20 year old.
See, hard day has a reward.
The budget crisis in California is so bad that UC-Berkeley removed all faculty phones. Wow. It makes sense, but still.
When Katie sent out her request to help her sister’s class, the response was so overwhelming that I didn’t have a chance to help her. So I chose to help a class near me—but the deadline is running out and the teacher is short of his goal of using graphic novels to encourage his class to read.
It’s a great cause using a fun approach to getting disadvantaged kids to read—who can’t get behind that?
Thanks! And just in an hour, it looks like there’s been almost $300 in donations. This teacher’s dream looks like it will come true.
Thank you all so much—Fulton Co. schools are among the most over-crowded and under-funded in all of Georgia.
This morning, I got an email saying the project was a week away from not reaching its goals and having the money given to other projects. It was over $400 away from reaching the budget.
So I put up a couple links here, twitter, FB.
As of right now, Mr. B needs $7. Seven. Dollars. Thank you all so much!
Today is my first day back in a real classroom since May of 2010. Wow, that’s a long time.
Today is also going to be my first time teaching a class scheduled to meet for more than 4 hours. I have no idea how I’m going to fill that time. There’s no way that my very limited knowledge of Babylonian and Hebraic mythology will fill that time.
Oh, and I’m leaving soon and won’t be home until midnight.
Why did I take this job with [redacted] again? Oh, right. Money. Health insurance. A reason to get out of bed.
Cue Pavement: “a career career career career”
I have four students in my Monday class, one came in an hour late, no book, no paper, no pen, no reading done. She did have her phone, however so she could text. All the rest of class.
Another doesn’t have a book because she ordered from Amazon via check. Who does that? And I’m the asshole because I expected her to take a quiz. On readings that are in the public domain.
I must type this phrase 100s of times a semester in my online and in-line comments. And it’s always funny to me because I think of a history teacher in my middle school, or as I called it then ‘Junior High’ and ‘Hell.’
I can’t remember his name as I didn’t have him, but this fairly fat and dumpy man who was missing one of his central incisors but who was reportedly a sweet man used to
yell say ‘BE SPECIFIC!’ all this time to his students. My god, I can’t imagine the insipid responses to junior high American history quizzes, tests, papers, et cetera he must have received. He probably learned to hate history.
What’s funny is that at one time in his classroom he had painted this slogan on the wall and would point to it all the time. He probably didn’t even say it, but just point—like ‘dummy, that’s why you failed.’
Then one summer they painted his room over, and his slogan was gone.
But for years he kept pointing to where it had been. And I would totally do the same.
A pretty good article on why teaching grammar is, like, hard, and stuff.