I can’t sleep. I start school in a week.
It’s going to be my fourth year teaching. Why do I still feel brand new?
Some things have changed. I still don’t know what I’m doing, only now I don’t care that I don’t know what I’m doing as much. That is until I start having my annual School Starting Anxiety Dreams—then I wish I had prepared my butt off all summer.
But I did other things. I started writing songs and played shows with a rock band. I attempted to play Transformers with my new four-year-old, who is unnaturally obsessive about anything that ends with “con". I cooked food in my kitchen without using the microwave. I stopped taking the meds that were supposed to stop me from becoming a depressed zombie and found out they’d been making me a depressed zombie.
I walked my ridiculous Chihuahua and did sit-ups on a regular basis.
I did not, however, read Great Expectations.
Summer reading should be sweet, pleasurable, and thought provoking in a ninja-like way. Summer reading should inspire life-long reading habits in kids. Summer reading should not be like a fist to the gut of a going-on-ninth-grader, who is suddenly longing, nay pining, for the good old days spent with Atticus Finch and Family. Great Expectations is an incredible book, but it is not good summer reading.
I am tickled by the possible redeeming social value of my very privileged students reading about Pip and his pathetic piece of dinner bread stuck up a pants leg while they lounged on the beach with friends in Costa Rica, cruised to Alaska, and cavorted in Sweden. Perhaps they all suddenly appreciated their exceptional place in society. Perhaps some will decide to throw off parental expectations and become social workers, public defenders and readers for the blind instead of succumbing to investment bankerdom. But, perhaps not.
I’d like to wager that many didn’t get through this novel at all. I am comfortable making this wager because I am hovering at around page one hundred, and I am their English teacher.
I’d rather assign books that would get greater numbers of them all the way through their reading, hopefully encouraging them to love reading and to look forward to reading in high school. Couldn’t we wait to scare and intimidate them with our mighty profundity after school starts?
So, here’s to a summer reading list full of books like Harry Potter, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time! Here’s to letting kids choose their own summer reading books!
Ok. I am not really an English teacher’s English teacher. But I still kinda have a point.
What was my point? Oh, right...
I should get to sleep, so I can read Dickens tomorrow. There's a long road ahead for me and Pip.