Clarity

This was written in June of this past year. There was a point I was trying to get to, thus the title Clarity, and why I didn’t post it at the time since it wasn’t finished, but now I don’t recall. This is the student that I mentioned more recently running into at the library, where he let me know he had finished reading the Moby Dick book I bought in this entry, so I figured still relevant to post.

Car was in the shop yesterday.

As usual, a trip to Glendora to my favorite mechanic who specializes in Volkswagens. No trip to the coffee shop I liked down the street, as they closed last year. Sad face.

I forgot to take reading materials. My mechanic sent me down the road, to a very popular thrift store. There was a line of waiting customers for the 10 am opening, and the staff seemed to deal with this on a daily basis.

Down at the store, I found a couple of children’s classics. An abridged version of Moby Dick, and an unabridged Anne of Green Gables. Still haven’t read either. But an abridged Moby Dick, 175 pages only because of lots of pictures, that I could get through. And I did, last night.

One of my students, a 6th grader, is quite into battle and violence. I know he likes to play video games. The interest in violence came up when we read a story about banished dragons and wizards, something he enjoyed, and kept suggesting why didn’t the wizard or the dragon attack everyone who had collectively done them wrong.

So, after reading Moby Dick, the abridged, and all that, I thought perhaps he might enjoy it. And it’s a classic! Expose him to the classic, give him the violence he wants, and use it to teach what I am teaching these days: compound, complex and simple sentences; the use of metaphors, similes, point of view, narrative techniques and such. Today, we are into chapter 3 already, and he says he is enjoying it.

He also has told me he hates history. So of course I am sneaking a bit of history into it. I asked him why they were hunting whales, what was the whale good for. He didn’t know. Whale meat? was his offered answer, a good guess. We got into a discussion about typewriters versus computers, and as he mimed a typewriter, it was the motion of a manual typewriter, rather than electric. The carriage return was the give away. So I explained the difference. I told him about why we have the QWERTY keyboard and how it hasn’t changed. When I explain things, he genuinely seems interested, and continually asks me questions. We discussed ghosts and suicide today, as he had witnessed a hanged suicide in his building. He asked me whether a suicide would cause a person to turn into a ghost.

This is why tutoring is so interesting. I never know where my students’ interests will take me. I think it important to not make a big deal about anything they bring up, not react, just answer their questions. Sometimes I just don’t know the answer and say so. He asked why anyone would choose to kill themselves, when we talked about Sylvia Plath, why not just hire someone to kill them? I don’t know, I said, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

Poetry is the other thing we are discussing, and forms of writing (essay, journal, letter, story, poem, novel) so as we walk through the history of American Poetry, more opportunities to discuss history and the changes in language over time.

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