Friday 8 May 2020

The Genius of Other Sprouts

I have only 17 minutes left for blogging today, for I have been reading, correcting and annotating student stories all morning. These stories are very good. Both students are strengthening their talent and improving their skills. Writing CAN be taught--huzzah! My teacherly pride is fizzing like a gin-and-tonic.

Too early in the day to think about drinks, however. Instead I will swiftly recall yesterday, which was sunny and warm, and note that I did not take a lunch hour, so absorbed was I in my investigative tasks.  Instead I went out around 4:30 PM to water the lawn and the gardens. However, I got an important phone call, so B.A. did most of the watering, and I later went out to water the spots he missed.

In the evening we went for an hour's walk around the neighbourhood. I barely noticed it as I was too busy thinking sad work-related thought, but I recall that the evening was still warm and that we saw a lovely 19th century stone house that completely empty but not for sale.

I have only a few pages of Wendell Berry left to read, but no time this morning to read them, let alone write about them. Writing a proper essay about Berry's essays would take, at very least, an entire weekend after a week's careful reading of each one. I would recommend one a day, so as to give it time to sink in and to eliminate the temptation to rush.

Speed-reading is not really reading; it is skimming. I am a natural speed-reader myself, and although it can be useful, it is not a good way to absorb texts or learn how to write them oneself.

Right: 10 AM, so I must go. I leave, however, on the happy thought that with the sunlight of my praise, the rain of my critiques, the weeding of hard work, and the nutritious soil of their own imaginations, my students will become novelists one day.

UPDATE: I finished reading "Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community" (the essay which finishes the book of the same name) at lunchtime. Section IV independently states what I have been saying about culture, place and pluralism for at least a decade. My surprise and relief  that my critique of multiculturalism was said first by Wendell Berry in 1992 (at the latest) is great.

1992 was a mere five or six years after my math teacher shouted, "All you white girls born in Toronto should LEAVE and leave room for the immigrants." The idea that Toronto was our home, and the home of even some of our grandparents and perhaps even great-grandparents, had quite eluded her at that moment. To her, Toronto was an airport you landed in and tried to make space for yourself in, shuffling the natives (if people born there could even be counted as natives, our ancestors not having settled there more than 200 years before) aside, pushing them to former farmland north, west and east, between trips "home."

Ironically, I followed the instruction, but so did many of my classmates, no matter where they were born: moving into the former farmland, in part because they couldn't afford the Toronto housing market.

I don't know what else to say about that except that when the disciples asked the Lord "Who is my neighbour," the Lord told a story about someone of a different ethnic group who was literally in the same geographical location of the man he helped. Your neighbour is who is literally in the same place as you, whoever they are, wherever you are. One of mine (a few doors down) was out on his stoop landing smoking marijuana while I watered the lawn. Smoking marijuana outdoors at lunchtime is not my personal symbol of culture and neighbourliness, but I summoned up some compassion and curiosity about this individual because we are, after all, neighbours.

UPDATE 2: By the way, yes, I do live in terror that I  myself will say the Wrong Thing to a child and it stays with them for the rest of their lives.

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