Aug 17, 2012

teaching

There were some good students, and wonderful moments. I think of a class I taught in Philadelphia one evening, at a reformatory. The students were problem children, some criminal, some radically disoriented. On a large block of newsprint I showed them how Chinese characters work, and how a poem written in pictographs is different from a poem written in an alphabet. I moved on to haiku (news to them). At the end of the hour a uniformed guard said my time was up. The whole class, one by one, hugged and kissed me. On the other hand, at Yale, after a lecture, a student stood up and said my every word was wrongheaded and behind the times.

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