Sunday, March 8, 2009

Teacher Joy

One day this past week we were discussing book X of The Odyssey and discussing the leadership abilities of Odysseus. Two former students looked in the window of the door with about 3 minutes left in class, and I waved them into the room. As they joined us I told them we were discussing the part where Odysseus and his men see Ithaka, but they get blown all the way back to the island of Aeolia. I then asked them what caused this to happen.

These two guys are athletes, and, during their time with me did not seem to especially enjoy literature, so I was holding my breath, hoping they would at least remember reading the book! One of them replied, "It was because Odysseus fell asleep."

I was thrilled that he remembered at least that much, but I couldn't resist pushing my luck. So I acknowledged his answer as correct, but then asked the deeper problem, the one that caused Odysseus to fall asleep. The other young man replied, "He didn't trust his men to handle the sail, so he stayed awake for over a week, and then he was so exhausted that he fell asleep. Because he had stayed awake so long, the men thought there was treasure in the bag and Odysseus was guarding it to keep it from them. That's why they opened it and the wind blew them all the way back. If you're a leader, you've got to learn to trust the people around you or they won't trust you."

I love my job.

If your children are in a school that (generally freshman year) does not teach the entire text of The Odyssey but just uses the abridged version found in literature books, may I suggest that you read the entire work with your children. I have really good focus questions that I created for the Lattimore translation. I provide those to students to use for the reading they have to do on their own. The questions really help them focus on the reading and figure out what is going on in the book. I'll be happy to share those with any who would like them.


SpoonerStreet said...

That story is the teacher equivalent of hitting the World Series winning home run in the bottom of the ninth.

You live for those kind of moments. I bet you wish that someone who could have appreciated them moment was there to share it with you.

Nice work!

epic said...

Thanks, Spooner! Actually, I'm in a hall full of English teachers, so I shared the joy moments later when the bell rang. There were high-fives all around as we all shared the joy.