Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Here are two great friends (named Delycia and Hammy, by the way), pausing on their 4-mile walk on this beautiful morning in Mystic …

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Click above to listen.

Many years ago, I had one of the most moving days I’ve ever had as a teacher. My 9th grade students and I had reached the end of our long journey through Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, and we concluded in a fittingly heartfelt way. The night before, I had selected two pop songs I thought connected well with the final chapter, and I played one (“Lean on Me” by Bill Withers) at the start of class and the other (“Heart of Gold” by Neil Young) at the end. In between, I read aloud the final chapter of the novel to the students. The songs, full of the feelings of friendship, love, and longing, brought the start of some tears to my eyes, and the reading aloud thoroughly choked me up. In fact, I had to stop a few times to gather my composure in order to make it through to the end. The chapter is a powerful culmination of a powerful story, and I felt the full force of it as I read — and I think a fair number of my students did, also. I recall thinking, as I read with tears in my eyes, “This is why literature has been so important for so many centuries.” After school, I remember reflecting back on our Dickens adventure. We had taken a full three months to read the book, which might have been the secret of our success. I didn’t rush the students through the vast world of A Tale; rather, we read slowly and carefully, because I wanted the students to absorb and maybe ‘live’ the story, not just read it. We traveled through that magnificent book in a persistent and watchful manner, and on one special day we brought it – at least for me – to an unforgettable and soul-stirring conclusion.

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Click above to listen.

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Click above to listen.

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