My Teachers, My Inspiration

Gallery of the Globe

World Teachers Day is Wednesday, and in honor of the profession I once had, I thought I would share a bit about what I once taught. My specialty was a survey of British literature. I started each text with an overview of its place in history. After all, context matters. We would then read the text together, discussing the story’s events and the author’s techniques and influences as we went. Annotating a text is an important skill in close reading. If the text was a drama, students would perform it; otherwise, they would take turns reading. While certainly reading happened at home as well, I found they understood the text better when they could ask for clarification in real time. Daily writing assignments often tackled themes from the text or important questions from that time in history. I sprinkled in movie clips, videos, and trivia as we went along. Tests and essays happened mainly because schools require it, but it was the learning and exchanging of ideas that mattered most to me. Some days I even tossed out the literature to focus on an important life lesson. Was I a great teacher? Not by a long shot, but I endeavored to share my love of literature with the students. More than that, I wanted to challenge them to think and question everything, to think critically. The literature was just a vehicle for that ultimate lesson. They don’t all keep in touch, but seeing the young people I once taught grow into thriving (though often still struggling) young adults is truly moving. I eagerly absorb the stories they share.

Shakespeare’s Globe in London

For anyone interested, here are some of the major works I taught: Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales (General Prologue), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Hamlet, Macbeth, the first two books of Gulliver’s Travels, a smattering of poetry by the Romantics, Frankenstein, and Nineteen Eighty-Four. There were certainly more, but I especially loved these. Here is a performance of Macbeth, starring Ian McKellen and Judi Dench if you are interested. I was lucky enough to visit Shakespeare’s Globe when it first reopened to the public in 2020. They told us we were the first group of people not associated with the theatre to ever be allowed on the stage. Wow. (Seriously, I was wetting myself!)

Queen Guinevre’s Maying by Collier

Here are this week’s suggestions for fun and enriching activities:

  • Relaxing Music: “Portrait (Out of the Blue)” by Enya. You can listen to it here or find the album The Celts on Amazon* or streaming.
  • Soothing Sounds: Ancient Library Room by New Bliss
  • Puzzle: Sudoku. You can find the game here along with everything you need to know about how to play.
  • Movie: Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993). You can find it on Amazon* or on a streaming service.
  • Creative Prompt (write, draw, paint, sculpt, photograph, or collage something based on this subject): earth
  • Mythology Lesson: Nike. Read about her here, and do a little further research if the mood takes you!
  • Short Reading: “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” You can read it here, or you can listen to it here.

Try one per day or everything every day, and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a more vibrant daily round.

*These are Amazon Affiliate links.

Did any of your teachers leave a positive lasting impression on you?

Tannhäuser in the Venusberg by Collier

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