Through Stream of Consciousness...Merely Thoughts RemainPosted by Scott Wood on 5/3/2018 8:00:00 PM
Finalizing A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and beginning Catch-22, I am reminded of myself. "Don't get it mistaken'," this sounds extremely selfish at first read; it isn't intentional. It is merely my truth.
I have desired to grow into an artist since I was a child. This is my childhood dream. However, as I aged, I realized that becoming an artist today is one of the most difficult tasks in the world; I would argue, strongly, that it is easier to become a professional athlete in our technological society than it is to become an artist. Allow me to clarify....
Human understanding, comprehension, and basic intake of knowledge, has become powerfully visual. At this point, if you are unclear, please search the word "meme" on a device connected to the internet.
Regarding my reference to sports, my point is thus: athletic events are more viewed than the artistic; the Oscars is the only event that draws more viewership than a sporting event, and even in that regard...IT'S STILL VISUAL.
Has linguistic art, the most symbolic art, disappeared from all existence?
Understandably, the boldness of this claim is uncanny, yet I make it without a wink, a flicker, a doubt, or a moments hesitation.
Art is losing ground.
For the sake of definition, art is not necessarily entertainment; tragedy, for an example, is profound and beautiful art. It is not pleasurable. Feeling morbidly sad, in many respects, is not considered to be an enjoyable act. Entertainment, by definition, is meant to be enjoyable. Define entertainment semantically or morally if you prefer. Philosophically, the choice matters not. Each path leads to a similar conclusion....
My proclamation is thus: modern humanity--of all modern culture--is consumed with that which entertains us.
Picture this: a person approaches all of Meaning.
(S)he says, "I want to be entertained at all times."
Meaning replies, "If that is the case, then you will have to sacrifice a part of me."
The person replies, "Sure."
Contemplating this hypothetical, I have come to my own conclusions: enjoyment, laughter, pleasure, and all the multitude of joyful emotions combined into one gigantic ardourful salad could never cause me to believe that art--and learning for that matter--should always be the same thing. If that was the case, then the novel, short story, family story, folk tale, poem, ballad, song, album, short film, and film that makes us cry would be non-existent.
These realms of art are not non-existent. I fear, mind you, that they are dying.
Strangely enough, I worry most that these important human emotions have become bad horror films at which young people giggle, or terrifying footage of the 9-11 attack that cause uproarious laughter...both of which I have seen with my own eyes.
So what can we say of the great population of society that has lost touch with being human? More importantly, have we ALL lost some sort of touch with the integral emotion of empathy?
In my short life span and limited experience, I have this at the forefront of my mind: if you have the ability to teach a young person something of the world of art and culture, that which is the representation of the true human condition, then by God, you do it.
Can we not all become artists? Even if we pale in comparison to Daedalus?
P.S. An entry on satirical humor--and essentially my ridiculous and non-philosophical side--coming soon. I promise not to be so depressing.
First semester over, here comes 2018Posted by Scott Wood on 12/18/2017
Only three days of classes remain this semester, then we all bid adieu to the first half of the 2017/2018 school year. My first journey through AP ENG IV provided me with enormous areas of improvement, and I hope to take what I have learned and apply it to my plans for next semester. As I will be relaxing with family and friends this holiday season, my mind shall always fall back on literature, teaching, writing, learning, and listening. I strongly believe that as I watch my students apply themselves, and in doing so, show significant improvement, I must do the same myself. My earnest hope is that next semester will be better than the first.
And what have we learned? Well, we certainly have explored two definitive examples of human government run amuck, whether through the over application of science or cruelty, the manipulation of reality, or the misconstrued conception of human equality. Dystopian novels give us hope, despite witnessing the failure of significant characters. It is in their failures that we bond our desire to make the world a better place, never allowing it to fall into a state of ruinous contempt. Beyond that, we were also introduced to the beauty of Jane Eyre, and a woman's honest desire to become an individual in a patriarchal society. I connect with Jane on many levels, for as she desires her beloved Rochester, I myself want the same love from a woman, yet, I am constantly compelled to focus on my individuality and career despite this ardent wish. This internal conflict exists within all modern intellectuals, recognizing the beauty of earthly companionship yet yearning for individual solidarity. My legacy is important to me, but then again, I would like to share that legacy with someone I love deeply.
Last, in this final post before Christmas break, I wish to say that I am truly filled with the holiday spirit. It is a wonderful time of year (even though the ridiculous weather has taken away from it slightly). I hope that you, dear reader, enjoy time with those that you love; I hope that you spread and share love with those around you, whether known or unknown; I hope that whatever your religion or creed, this winter brings not coldness, but warmth and affection. Godspeed.
New Perspective: Old PerspectivePosted by Scott Wood on 11/12/2017
A woman who taught for over 30 years walked in with Ms. Thomas on Friday. She had something to say.
She said that for most seniors--those who are not in AP--benefit from more than merely teaching the writing process. She listened for years; she learned from her dyslexic son. In my mind, she knew something that I did not. She knew more.
Upon recollection, I realize she has a profound knowledge. Many young people that pass through my doors simply do not understand how to communicate with people on a professional level. Is it this simple? Have we touched upon a nerve long undone? Or, more simply, has she recognized a deficiency in education?
I await our next meeting with poise and gentile affection. She knows more than I do.
My ability lies in reading and redirecting students. I could benefit from a wealth of knowledge. Luckily, I always have Ms. Thomas on my side.
We can't always have guardian angels...
The Human DiaryPosted by Scott Wood on 9/10/2017
I read a student's personal narrative today; (s)he said that her(his) relationship was that of a "human diary" to her(his) best friend. This struck me.
How much do we remember of our loved ones? Do we set about to memorize their words or take them in and make them our own? How much of our brilliance is because of those gifted few that touched our lives and made them better?
I could ask...and ask these questions until time stands still. However, the only reality I would experience is the loss of time with those that I hold dear. I know now that in the midst of hard work, dedication, and brillance, one must take the time to be around people that are wonderful and worth loving.
I am blessed to have family that fills this description.
Not everyone is. We all walk a path that is beset with horror and beauty yet all in our own fashion. It is glorious and terrifying. It is wholly unbearable at times.
We must persevere. We must endure. Speak your pain and I will listen...it is my duty as an educator, a proctor, a rector, a philosopher, a lover of language. A scholar.
"I have a moral responsibility to my students. I shall uphold this." My morning starts each day. I breathe in and out. Who comes first?
This is the hardest job; I relish the opportunity. I enjoy the struggle; it pushes me ever forward. Indeed, there is always a young heart and mind that needs that spark...
From darkness...there comes light. Only with the human hand.
Howard the GreatPosted by Scott Wood on 9/7/2017
About 10 years ago, my grandfather passed on to the next plane. Because he was so dear to me, I asked if I could speak at his funeral. This was the first funeral I ever attended. I chose a poem by Emily Dickinson to read:
To know just how he suffered would be dear;
To know if any human eyes were near
To whom he could intrust his wavering gaze,
Until it settled firm on Paradise.
To know if he was patient, part content,
Was dying as he thought, or different;
Was it a pleasant day to die,
And did the sunshine face his way?
What was his furthest mind, of home, or God,
Or what the distant say
At news that he ceased human nature
On such a day?
And wishes, had he any?
Just his sigh, accented,
Had been legible to me.
And was he confident until
Ill fluttered out in everlasting well?
And if he spoke, what name was best,
What one broke off with
At the drowsiest?
Was he afraid, or tranquil?
Might he know
How conscious consciousness could grow,
Till love that was, and love too blest to be,
Meet--and the junction be Eternity?
My grandfather was one of the kindest, most noble, genuine, and respectful men I knew. Strangely enough, I would say that my own father falls into this category. I write this blog post for one reason: take the time to tell those that you love how much you care. Never miss an opportunity to share the love that you feel with the most important people in your life.
Time takes its toll on us all.
The TeenPosted by Scott Wood on 8/31/2017 10:00:00 PM
If I thinned and shrunk...
If the creases in my face slowly disappeared...
If scars on my forehead smoothed over...
If each grey hair returned to brown...
If my beard thinned out and grew patchy...
If I lost most of the hair on my chest...
If I returned to High School and occupied a desk...would I be any different?
Would I be more resilient? Proud?
Would I stun my very self...laying witness to my own actions...
Realizing that self-control is not such a simple concept...
During the formulation of that which I take for granted...
Recognizing the importance of patience...
Amongst those that have immediacy readily at hand...
In the moment it is desired...
In my epoch of ancient, idiosyncratic memory...
I wasn't so different from the teens...
A Note on "Ozymandias."Posted by Scott Wood on 8/29/2017 7:00:00 PM
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
This was the second poem dissected in my ENG IV AP class. First question: have you read it? Second question: what does it mean to you?
Power, it seems, is within all human hands...and minds. We can all create; we can all destroy. There is no mystery in these words. Unless...
Does power corrupt? Recent comic films have broached this topic; Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice examined this very concept. Was Superman too powerful? Did it necessitate a human, namely Batman, to "reel him in?"
My thoughts on this ongoing issue are thus: my creation, my "works," are the sheer performance of my students. If they fail, then perhaps, so have I.
In relation to the poem, Shelley wishes mankind to understand that our creations, in the physical sense, shall always fall to ruin. Our ideas and beliefs, however, are a completely different story all together. All this being said as I review the poem again, I would not want despair to be the lasting impression on mankind. Therefore, I would change one word:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and HOPE!"
For the poem reveals a truth of our world: all things built by man must inevitably fall to ruin...except...
Our memories as words...our beliefs...our hopes...our dreams...
Human memory, spoken word, and written language all combine to create what we know as "belief."
And it lives on forever, as long as humans breathe...
In the lungs of those that come after, ponder this.
First Impressions of the AP classPosted by Scott Wood on 8/28/2017 7:00:00 PM
To say that creating an AP classroom from scratch is a daunting task would be an egregious understatement; I am thrilled by the challenge of what lies ahead. For my opening classroom, students embraced the analysis of Donne's "For Whom the Bells Tolls" like starving, wild dogs searching for prey. It was a thrill and an honor to hold my first class.
It appears that I have arrived.
"But what now? What comes next?" Dearest Hunter S. Thompson was right; in the face of something so new, do we not question ourselves? Our direction? Our goals? For the year is "long and full of terrors," but then again, is that not the brilliance of education? Should we not be afraid of that which is unknown? Should learning not compel us to be better than the day before? Isn't this at the very heart, the very center, of true education?
"I go through all this,
Before you wake up.
So I can feel happier,
To be safe up here with you."
These lyrics from Bjork, "Hyperballad," speak to me at a level I didn't think possible. It is a love song; however, I find myself applying its theme to how I address the classroom: when students are engaged and happy, I do "feel happier." I truly recognize that the classroom is a safe place where I, and my students, can "be safe up here" together.
For isn't the classroom the safe place where ideas, thoughts, and dare I say, dreams, really exist? Are these not the questions that should compel us all: parents, teachers, administrators, and team leaders?
Take a long breath; teaching is a dream come to fruition...if only you make it so.
A Reflection on the Impact of a Single TeacherPosted by Scott Wood on 8/19/2016
Before the start of my first school year, I've been thinking about the kind of impact that one teacher has over the course of 10 years. Based upon sheer volume, a teacher will have contact with approximately 150 students per school year. This is most certainly an average number and can fluctuate more or less depending on the particular school year. For the sake of argument, we will say that an average of 150 students per year, multiplied by 10 years, means that a single teacher has instructed 1500 students. This amount of students is greater than practically every graduating class of every high school in the state of Texas.
What responsibility does a teacher have to each and every student that walks into his or her classroom? Though it is a matter of perspective how long a person perceives 10 years, in the grand scheme of events in this country, it really isn't that long a period of time. So, in this small period of a time, I find it fascinating that one person can impact the lives of such a large number of young people. This startling statistic shows how important excellent teachers are for the next generation of Americans. Each and every parent, each and every person that cares about his or her community, should recognize the necessity of educated, professional, culturally-minded teachers. Their guidance, working in partnership with parents and guardians, propels young people through the choppy waters of adolescence into the next step of their lives.
So, to answer my own question, I believe that teachers have not only a professional responsibility, but also a moral responsibility, to each and every student. It is our duty as educators to pour our life's work into helping students become knowledgeable members of American society. My sincere hope is that I can have a positive influence on the lives of my students, giving them tools and opportunities to live productive lives.