It’s 82 degrees, I sit under an umblemished sky, just as you do, and I can hear your inner voices speaking quietly to you, saying, “I wonder what we’re doing in Mr. McAteer’s class this week.” You know it will be awesome; I know it will be awesome, but you want to slap somebody because you can’t for the life of you figure out what “it” is.
Well, relax that slap-happy palm, sailor, ‘cause I’m gonna give you the straight dope, as they say, and I’m going to do it in alphabetical order.
Here in the classes that don’t drop this week, we’re going to do some table setting in terms of the form and content of our class for this year. On Monday, you’ll talk to each other instead of having to listen to me, sharing with one another your observations about the beauty of GGM’s story. For Tuesday, you’ll read Borges’s lecture, and you’ll understand that these Latin Americans are really onto something.
On Tuesday night, you’ll have a choice between which Bible-paired slice of American literature you want to taste, and you’ll be in groups to talk about the dialogical nature of literature, which may spill over into Thursday’s class, when I give some clarity to our first unit, ask you to tap into your own reading experiences, and we start to realize that, just like the Wildcats of East High, the writers and the readers are all together in this process of trying to figure out how and why the world works as it does.
We’ll spend Friday playing around with dialogues on what will be one of our few Beach Chair Fridays this year, so make sure you do your pleasant weather dance. There’s a chance that, along the way, I’ll lay down some of the class expectations for your reading and writing. You’ll have a few days to hang with Virginia Woolf before our discussion on the first day of class post-Labor Day
HLLC (We really, really have to change the name of this class)
This class is all fun and games, as far as you know. On Monday, you’ll have a quiz that will blow your frickin’ mind, so much so that I would encourage you all to take Tuesday off from school just so you can regain a little equilibrium. For Wednesday, just to ensure that there’s no lingering after-effect, like post-concussion syndrome, we’ll just play games and tell stories using the games and story objects you bring with you to class. On Thurrrsday, we’ll look into the crystal balls of your futures to identify exactly where you’re going with your not quite pathetic little lives, and then you’ll write your first piece on Friday, a piece that will have to be a finished piece, but which I will never, ever read. Mysterious, isn’t it?
My goal in the first week of class is to have everyone put their preconceptions of what poetry is into a big pile, and then set the pile on fire. To make that happen, we’re going to do some things that may seem unconventional. Here’s the agenda for the week:
Monday: short period – go outside and pull weeds to discover how poetry is like pulling weeds. I distribute “Poetic Intelligence Walk” handout so everyone is prepared for Tuesday’s class.
Tuesday: Go on the Poetic Intelligence Walk. There’s a good chance that people will take pictures and maybe we’ll even shoot some video that we can post to our Google drive or to my website – mrmcateer.com. For Thursday’s class, I will ask everyone to print and read “The Riddle of Poetry” .pdf file that is on our class Google drive. As you read, I ask that you highlight or underline passages that “speak the truth” to you, and/or passages that challenge what you’ve learned about poetry in the past.
Wednesday: We drop.
Thursday: We’ll spend the first 10-12 minutes of class writing your thinking about one of the passages you highlighted. I will collect the passages the class selected in a google doc so we can refer to those “truths” moving forward, and we will spend the rest of the class period in discussion of the reading, at least until I distribute the “Conversation with a River” document that will be our preparation for Beach Chair Friday.
Friday: Or rather, Beach Chair Friday. I’m going to ask everyone to find a nice place to sit, to choose an object and write a dialogue that begins with the first two lines of the “Conversation with a River” model. This is one of those “let your imagination go for a walk and tell you what it found” kind of days. The only rules for the day are that the object you choose to dialogue with has to be funnier than you and wiser than you. We’ll mess around a little with those dialogues on Tuesday as our re-entry from the long weekend.
All three documents I referenced here are contained in our class google drive folder.