Son #1 has to memorize Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address for Social Studies class.
He doesn’t want to. Actually, he’s already memorized paragraphs one and two, it is three that is the doozy.
“Why do I have to memorize this?” he says. “I could understand if I had to explain the meaning of the speech or write an essay on it’s effects on the Civil War. Why memorization?”
I can understand his concern and applaud his assignment suggestions which encourage critical thinking.
I’ll admit that as a teacher I’ve asked children to memorize poetry, or the preamble to the US Constitution. I’m a big fan of Poetry Outloud and part of my motivation (for mandatory student memorization) comes from a romantic notion planted by the Dead Poet’s Society movie (that’s a link to video BTW). I imagine my students theatrically presenting literary moments in history. But there is more. As they memorize, I hope that they internalize the rhythms of the language and the meaning of the piece. It’s true, that in these situations, I spend quite a bit of time dissecting what ever needed to be memorized.
What do you think? Memorization yes or no? Is there something you had to memorize in Middle School that you still know?
Tonight, Friday, April 27th, Wesley McNair, Maine’s Poet Laureate will read at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, Maine.
Recently, Wes sent me an email with the following vision of the event:
I plan to tell the story of my life as a poet, using poems from my recent book, Lovers of the Lost, which is new & selected and so offers me this opportunity.
Wes has been a champion of poetry during his tenure as Poet Laureate. He edits a wonderful new weekly feature in the Portland Press Herald entitled Take Heart: A conversation in poetry. He appears around the state doing workshops and poetry readings, and has helped prepare high school students for the Poetry Out Loud competition. We are fortunate to have him.
I’m looking forward to meeting the kind man with whom I’ve been communicating, and the poet that I admire. I hope you’ll join me tonight at one of the final events of National Poetry Month.
1. Today I’m excited to attend the Maine Poetry Out Loud finals. Over 8,000 high school students representing schools from all over Maine started competing many months ago, and now there are only ten. The winner, the runner up and Cumberland County finalists will be invited to participate in the Brunswick, Poem in Your Pocket afternoon event at The Little Dog Café on Tuesday, April 24th.
2. El Niño? La Niña? Global warming? Whatever it was, I was thrilled to don my short-shorts and tshirt to enjoy the 80 degree weather in Maine this week. Look!
Daffodils in March! Crazy, but I’m not complaining.
3. Beautiful weather = Anna outside training. I got in two longer bike rides this week and a long walk with a friend at Pinelands. Today, I’m in the pool again doing laps. Nevertheless, I’m feeling good about the upcoming UNE Nor’Easter. At first, I thought I’d just do it as an early training exercise, but now I feel as if I might beat some of my previous times. We’ll see.
4. Despite the beautiful weather, and my training, this week has been extremely productive. Every day I’ve been forcing myself inside to chip away at the revision of my WIP. I’m thrilled to report that the end is near. (26 pages away) I’ll be sending it to first readers next week– meeting my self-imposed April 1 deadline. My momentum is slowed only by my own fears. Will my generous first readers get half way through and decide that my writing sucks? That the story is trite? The characters two dimensional? I can only hope that they have (as one of them told me this week) “a sharp pencil and a soft heart.”
5. So with all that productivity something has to slip, right? My kitchen is a total mess and we’ve eaten out about three times in the last seven days. The messy kitchen is actually out of character for me. Even if the rest of the house is a pit, my kitchen is usually clean. I just haven’t been able to rise to the challenge. I’m trying to give myself a pass on the guilt. It will get done. I have food in the freezer. Yesterday at Pinelands, I got fresh veggies. Salmon with zucchini and brussel sprouts are on the menu tonight. What’s for dinner in your house?
Have a good weekend! On Member Monday– Looking forward to the NESCBWI spring conference. An interview with Joyce Johnson, conference co-director