I miss the discussions. I miss the interaction. I miss sharing my passion for reading and writing. Being immersed in teaching high school English for 25 years was a dream come true for me. I used to tell my students that even though the social cliques were well defined at my high school, I was my own clique. I was a jock-bookworm.
If I hadn’t majored in English I would have majored in American History. What I didn’t realize all those years as I was teaching was that each day I was able to talk about the stuff I loved. I could pick the brains of fellow faculty members and school librarians and learn so much more. It was always important to me to create new methods of sharing my knowledge with my students.
I’m sure each of us who teach literature have our favorite books to share with our students. I never tired of teaching: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Of Mice and Men, The Things They Carried, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Macbeth, The Crucible. I enjoyed teaching each and every book (ok, maybe not The Odyssey so much) but the former stand out. And what I did with The Great Gatsby….
For me, each book was an opportunity to also teach the history surrounding the book. I dare say my students learned as much about history as they did literature. I also connected them to the music, art and poetry of the time period. Tim O’Brien’s novel, The Things They Carried, is a Vietnam-era novel. It was not up to me to instruct them how to feel about the war but to extract the messages conveyed by the novel’s author. However, they also read various news articles from the time period (Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather), learned about embedded journalists, read a variety of war-related poetry, read an excerpt of We Were Soldiers Once and Young (by Gen. Hal Moore and journalist Joe Galloway), but the culminating activity was usually the study of various protest songs. After all, songs are poetry set to music…shhh, don’t tell them that. Yeah, I definitely miss that.
What I miss above all is teaching Detective Fiction. That is my true calling. It’s what I love. It’s what I read. It’s what I write. Crime and mystery fascinate me, in the same way driving by a bad accident is fascinating. One hates to look but one must see. I no longer have an audience for my mystery discussions. I’m not able to teach the unreality of the popular crime shows on TV. I still have a tremendous desire to share my passion but I have yet to figure out a vehicle for doing so. Perhaps it will come to me.
And don’t misunderstand. I’m still a bookworm but my reading isn’t solely relegated to the genre of mystery. Though I’m no longer a jock, I do write poetry. Go figure.