Tag Archives: Education

School under the Sea: Reeling, Writhing…

To welcome teachers and students back to school, here’s a description of education under the sea, as experienced by Lewis Carroll’s Gryphon and Mock Turtle.

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Does School Teach Kids to Hate Reading?

An elementary school teacher is accusing traditional teaching assignments of killing kids’ natural love of reading. Is he right?

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Teachers, Don’t Nip Their Buds

In “Songs of Experience,” William Blake worries that authority figures will nip the promise of budding schoolboys. “The Schoolboy” serves as a timely reminder for all teachers.

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The Inner City: Stay or Leave?

How do we get young people to stay in the inner city and make it a better place? Baldwin’s “Sonny Blues” gives us a sense of what is possible.

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Are College Students Sheep?

William Deresiewicz’s recent book “Excellent Sheep” may make the same mistake as other books about college: generalize about students.

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Parental Rule #1: Respect Your Child

“David Copperfield” enjoins us to respect the interiority of children.

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Teaching Kids the Language of the Ages

Stories, whether fact or fiction, convey deep wisdom to children.

Posted in Tilghman (Christopher) | Also tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Iliad and Higher Ed’s MOOCish Future

MOOCs–Massive Open On-line Courses–can never teach lit as well as small classes.

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Poems Teach Us to Be Wise

Two young student athletes in my Intro to Literature took important lessons from “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and a Wendell Berry poem.

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Poetry in the Commencement Ceremony

Our Commencement was jolted by a reading of Martin Espada’s “Imagine the Angels of Bread.”

Posted in Angelou (Maya), Clifton (Lucille), Espada (Martin) | Also tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Ballad of Bathtub Gin

“The Ballad of Bathtub Gin” looks back to the days of Appalachian moonshine.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Also tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Answer the Door, the Truth Is Knocking

Willa Cather and Lucille Clifton were quoted in our end-of-the-year awards ceremony last week.

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No Frigate Like a Liberal Arts Education

Phi Beta Kappa’s John Churchill lectured our new inductees on Emily Dickinson and the vital importance of a liberal arts education for all.

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Also tagged , , , | 2 Comments

A 17th Century Comedy Addressing Rape

The Right Wing’s “war on women” is affecting the way my students read Aphra Behn.

Posted in Behn (Aphra) | Also tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

For Core Standards, More Lit, Not Less

The Common Core State Standards deemphasize literature. In fact, we need more literature taught.

Posted in Austen (Jane), Lewis (C. S.) | Also tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Bored Students, Don’t Forget Lyre Bird

Jacques Prévert’s lyre bird comes to the rescue of bored students everywhere.

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Austen vs. Common Core State Standards

To excite students, teach good writing–not writing that torments.

Posted in Austen (Jane) | Also tagged , , | 4 Comments

Gradgrind Takes Over English Classes

The new Common Core State Standards are pushing literature out of English classes.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Also tagged , , | 5 Comments

Which Jane Austen Character Are You?

Find out what Jane Austen character you are with my class’s Jane Austen Personality Profile test.

Posted in Austen (Jane) | Also tagged , | 32 Comments

Students Persuaded by “Persuasion”

College students continue to find Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” compelling.

Posted in Austen (Jane) | Also tagged , | 2 Comments

The Liberating Power of Yo-Yos

In this Scott Bates fantasy, a renegade scholar breaks library protocol with a bright red yo-yo.

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Serving Students a Jane Austen High Tea

Serving my students a Jane Austen high tea made the novels come alive.

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School Band, Disharmony of the Spheres

Celebrating the agreement between the Chicago teachers and the city, here’s a humorous poem about school band.

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School Begins with Internment Camp Novel

Otsuka’s “When the Emperor Was Divine” excited our incoming students upon the upcoming school year.

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Ritually Enacting “Adultery”

Ritually enacting a piece of fiction, such as Andre Dubus’ “Adultery,” can lead to special insights.

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Prince Hal in Today’s School System

David Brooks argues that today’s “nurturing, collaborative” educational system would have kept Shakespeare’s Prince Hal from becoming one of England’s great kings.

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Orwell Shot Down More Than an Elephant

Essayist Dylan Nice describes how Orwell’s essay “Shooting the Elephant” pulled him out of kneejerk rightwing prejudices.

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A Film about a Teacher Taking Chances

“Monsieur Lazar” is a film about real learning, which sometimes can only happen in spite of school regulations.

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Parents, Kids, Schools & Banned Books

Parents pressure schools to ban books because they want to protect their children. Their children want the books because they have a different set of needs.

Posted in Blume (Judy), Chbosky (Stephen), Rowling (J. K.), Salinger (J. D.) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Villanelle for Graduating Seniors

During our commencement ceremonies this past Saturday, my creative writing colleague Karen Anderson was asked to read an appropriate poem. (Previous posts on Karen’s poetry have appeared here and here.) Karen chose a villanelle by Theodore Roethke and then, in a very nice touch, explained how the poem’s intricate form as well as its content […]

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Students, Fling Up Your Windows!

Stephen Vincent Benet has a perfect poem for students worn out from end-of-the-semester studying.

Posted in Benet (Stephen Vincent) | Also tagged , , | 3 Comments


  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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