Why I post on Fridays and other almost related details

by Mr. Sheehy

Back in college after dinner my friends and I would stop at the computer lab for a little while on the way back to the dorm and browse the web. I’d check on the Red Sox and my high school’s sports scores, basically finishing in ten to fifteen minutes. I had not even begun to realize the time one can waste online, but it was just 1996, so my nascent distractability is understandable. My favorite day was Friday, because that’s when Dave Barry’s column was published online at the Miami Herald. Back home I’d read Barry in my Sunday paper, but this cool tool called the Internet sped up the delivery by two days, and I heartily approved.

I mention that because I have found that Friday is my favorite day to post new articles, despite the knowledge that it negatively effects readership stats for this blog. Likely because many readers of A Teacher’s Writes are teachers, articles posted on Fridays get buried in RSS readers over the weekend and do not generate nearly as much traffic as those posted on Tuesday. This fact could be part of why I like posting on Friday–it undercuts the idea that what I am doing is for some sort of substantial audience (ultimately, there aren’t that many of you). Plus, and probably more importantly, it makes me feel like Dave Barry, the first writer I aspired to be like.

To be honest, I am fretting over a long post I’m crafting and am delaying posting it, because it might not be that good. I fear I’ll end up like Stephen Emms in the UK Guardian, who explains that he thinks Tolstoy blew the ending of Anna Karenina. He obviously believes he was correct in his estimation, but his position was so totally blown apart by Alan Jacobs at The New Atlantis that it looked childish:

Emms does not come out and say that he thinks that Tolstoy shares the judgment of Vronsky’s mother — surely he knows better. But I take it that he wants Tolstoy to somehow refute that judgment. But that’s not necessary: it is self-refuting. And Emms would better understand what Tolstoy is up to here if he had noticed the book’s epigraph: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord.” That is, “vengeance is mine — it is not yours.” Vronsky’s mother has raised her son to be utterly self-regarding, and cares nothing for the life — Anna’s life — that her son’s self-regard has destroyed. (Vronsky himself is actually not nearly as bad as his mother: he genuinely loves Anna, insofar as it is possible for someone like him to love.) The foulness of her easy contempt is palpably evident — for those with eyes to see.

This is why I was scared to raise my hand in a literature class for my first three years of undergraduate study. I did not want to be where Stephen Emms finds himself here. While Emms might not mind it and might be confident in his position, in his place I would be horrified and scared to write anything more about literature for another year. Though I am a confident person, I know myself and the landscape out there well enough to realize there are many people much smarter than me commenting on the things about which I like to comment and about which I have opinions.

In that light, I think I’ll send along a few items on this Friday from people extremely bright and good at what they do.  Recommended Friday reading, if you will.

Item the first

The first is a poem from Luci Shaw. Published in Image Journal, it is called “Psalm for the January Thaw,” and I love it for its detail and because I have never experienced thaw as much as I do where I currently live, a place where the snow never stacks up but always seems to melt a week after it falls.

Blessed be God for thaw, for the clear drops
that fall, one by one, like clocks ticking, from
the icicles along the eaves. For shift and shrinkage,
including the soggy gray mess on the deck
like an abandoned mattress that has
lost its inner spring. For the gurgle
of gutters, for snow melting underfoot when I
step off the porch. For slush. For the glisten
on the sidewalk that only wets the foot sole
and doesn’t send me slithering. Everything
is alert to this melting, the slow flow of it,
the declaration of intent, the liquidation.

Read the rest.

Item the second

I talk less and less about technology here, a result of my decreasing use of it in the classroom, and a result of a changing position regarding what students need to learn from me about technology. I am beginning to think it less important that I teach students how to use technology than that I should teach them how not to use it. I do not want to teach them that it is bad, but it seems more important that I teach them how to resist it, how to concentrate without it, and how to communicate with words considered carefully before clicking away. Mark Bauerlein is not a name admired by educational technology experts, but I welcome his prediction  about teachers using non-digital technologies to great effect in the classroom (as I welcome Alan Jacobs’s comments about it).

Item the third

I recently picked up from the library a handful of wonderful books. Among them was the first volume of Susan Wise Bauer’s The Story of the World. Written to speak to children and to speak through story, Bauer covers it all, from the first nomadic peoples to the modern world. Last weekend I read with my daughters about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which I was intrigued to learn were built by King Nebuchadnezzar II, and the Great Pyramid of Giza, which I learned was likely to have been originally tipped in gold and white-washed so it would gleam in the sunlight. Books are cool, stories are amazing, and I am seriously ready to retire before 35 so I can attend home school with my children.

Item the fourth

In a more comic strain, I leave you with Ree Drummond, aka the Pioneer Woman, and a tale about . . . well, I won’t tell you what it’s about. I’ll simply direct you to this post and recommend that you scroll down to #5 in the list of items she discusses. That top picture, by the way, is of her basset hound, Charlie.

As always, thanks for reading. And now, let us enjoy the weekend.