Just some thoughts …
I just met with my old American Literature professor from last Spring. I have requested that she write a letter of recommendation for graduate school for me. Our conversation started off with me fumbling through my words trying to express to her what I would like me letter to say. She then asked the most basic question of an English major: “What is your favorite book?”
Most times I struggle with this question because I want to say something smart, something literary, something only an English major would find joy in. But, instead of saying The Great Gatsby, or Paradise Lost or even Lolita, I simply said … Harry Potter. Being undoubtedly mortified, I began to justify my answer with stories of growing up alongside Harry. Stories of my mother waiting in line at Barnes & Noble in the wee hours of the morning just to ensure that she got her hands on 4 copies of the new book. One for her, one for each of my sisters, and one for me.
What I realized was that reading, and literature isn’t about being intellectual, or brilliant. It’s about community. Most times all sense of community is lost under the umbrella of technology or lack of care. My professor spoke of her days at the University when she was pursuing her MA. Outside each building would be bundles of people, smoking cigarettes and discussing philosophy or debating politics. Now, she said, the campus is quiet.
I want to become an educator because I want to revive this sense of community that has been lost. I want to cultivate lively conversation within my classroom, not just about literature, but about life, and all of its experiences. Maybe it’s the trees changing color, or the air becoming cooler, but there is something about this time of year that cultivates new ideas and probes deeper understanding.