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Convocations

September 27, 2011

I spoke at another university’s Convocation and then arrived back at my home institution for our own Convocation. Our speaker was the headmaster of an inner city school who told us how he had worked his way up from nothing to become a leader in his community. This is what education can do, he said. He was charismatic and powerful and inspirational and I was ready to spring out of my chair and follow him back to Baltimore and teach in his school. I saw it all. I would teach fifth grade. We would work on spelling and geography and math and my students would grow up and achieve all sorts of things. One of them would definitely be president. I haven’t watched Up the Down Staircase/way since I was a teenager and I suspect that it is probably an offensive film on many levels. White do gooder goes to an inner city school etc. But this is the trajectory I was on, at least for the duration of his speech and for a few minutes afterwards. But now I am back in my classroom, asking students to define genocide and tell me what a poem is. We all have our own ways, I guess. My convocation speech did not feature my inner city past since I don’t have one. Instead I talked about Beowulf. I really did. I know it sounds like a parody of myself. But there it is. Hwaet! I said.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 28, 2011 6:05 am

    Beowulf has been on my mind lately. I wonder why? But mostly I have been reading Eastern Europeans in translation.

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