edu180atl: katie hartsock 12.12.11
I learned (again) today that answering the question “why?” remains a vital task in education. As an educator and parent, I wrestle to conjure brilliant, intentional responses daily. Dropping my son off this morning, I accidentally closed his tiny fingers in the car door. Through tears, he cried, “Why, Mommy?” My answer was an apology and flurries of kisses. I hoped it was enough.
Later, as my world literature class prepared for midterms, one student bemoaned flatly that he didn’t want to review a text he didn’t like the first time around—whether Antigone or Siddhartha, I can’t recall. My heart sank. I flushed, angry and wounded. His real question was, “why do we have to read at all?” I know students don’t have to love the literature I teach… but, man, I wish they did. I explain why we read what we read, why we write what we write, and how reading will equip them to become innovative communicators and thinkers. Still, my authentic answer to the deeper why when it comes to English class betrays my old school soul, perhaps a relic.
Why? Because I want students to fall recklessly, madly in love with reading as I did thanks to my mother and Hamlet and Ellen Gilchrist and Rumi and Plath. Because I wish for them the palpable solace of curling up with a long-awaited book, an actual book with—yes!—paper pages, bound spine, and unfathomable characters. Books teach. And I hope that it’s enough.
About the Author: Katie Fesuk Hartsock teaches English at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School. Her poems have been published in Five Points and Poet Lore, among others, and she loves books and teaching creative writing.