Living the Conversation

Rilke wrote of "living the questions," in his Letters to a Young Poet, a book I've always treasured (and which served as inspiration for my book Letters to a New Teacher). As something of a follow up to yesterday's blog about complexity, I want to suggest we try "living the conversation" within the profession and society at large, doing what we can to learn as we go instead of putting off till tomorrow what we could learn something about today.

What do I mean? I read laterally, grazing across books I need to or should read, contenting myself with whatever I can take for the ten minutes or hour, returning when inclined and able to learn more. People increasingly speak of the value of eating a series of small meals throughout the course of day, an apple here, piece of cheese there, hand full of nuts later. This supposedly allows us to digest what we eat better and manage our appetites.

There are so many conversations going on about and within education in general and English in particular; meanwhile, we are busy working, doing the work that often leaves us feeling too little time to read these conversations others are having about our work, about us, our field.

Today, I'll read some poems, as I do every day. And something from the New Yorker, even if only the cartoons. And I'll grab what I can of the New York Times (on my Kindle), settle for the book review section if nothing else, though the article about teachers selling lesson plans is very interesting. And I'll read this box of student notebooks here, of course. And then I'll glean what I can from the foot-high pile of books about using notebooks with students (for the portion of the book I am writing now). I'll strive to finish Hesse's Journey to the East, which I am reading prior to teaching Siddhartha (starting next week). I'll do what I can to read something from the latest English Journal, but not the lead article because, since I wrote it, I've already read! And finally, if there is time, I'll read what few pages I can from Karen Armstrong's life of Buddha, which I got to help me better grasp the biographical aspect of Hesse's novel. It was an impulse buy at a small bookstore my wife and I went to last night after a wonderful dinner at La Mediteranee, which was SO charming I had to end with a link so you could see it yourself.

Enjoy your day…and the conversation.

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