Today’s post comes from perennial Sophomore Bubby Spamden, still in the 10th grade at Wendell Willkie High School after 30 years.
Hi Mr. C.,
Well, my world got totally rocked yesterday when the news came out that Harper Lee’s second book is about to be published.
I’ve been a high school sophomore for about a third of Ms. Lee’s (age 88) life, so I’ve had plenty of chances to read her first book, “To Kill A Mockingbird.”
And by “plenty of chances”, I mean I’ve been forced to read it every October since 1985. And no, the teachers and principals who insist on keeping me back year after year after year are NOT about to cut me any slack when it comes to the reading assignments.
Or the enrichment activities.
I’ve done “To Kill A Mockingbird” storyboards to “demonstrate and extend” my learning. I’ve listed vocabulary words from the book, drawn plot diagrams and character maps, and discussed themes, symbols, and motifs.
I’ve even written a paper discussing “To Kill A Mockingbird” as an archetype of the hero’s journey, and I still don’t know what an archetype is.
There have been thousands of quizzes and hundreds of role-playing exercises. I’ve been Scout, Boo and the angry mob. And I’ve written my own version of Atticus Finch’s closing argument. Seven times.
I hope Ms. Lee knows what a gift this second book will be to 10th graders everywhere, if only because I’m flat-out exhausted with her first one.
I saw Mr. Boozenporn standing outside his room and I told him that if I’m held back again (which I will be), I’m really looking forward to reading “Go Set a Watchman” in his class next Fall, and he just laughed.
“In your spare time, maybe,” is what he said. So I asked him why.
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because there are already a gazillion lesson plans built around ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. Or maybe because the school has a whole room in the basement just devoted to storing copies of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. Or it might be that your teacher has led a unit on “To Kill a Mockingbird” for forty years and is too old and tired to do anything about ‘Go Set a Watchman’.”
Then he shrunk back into his room real suspicious-like. I think he eats raw squirrels in there.
I told Bubby I will never understand how he can be so stuck in the 10th grade, especially now that I know he has read “To Kill a Mockingbird” every Fall for the last 30 years. Doing that alone would be enough to graduate, I’d think, if only for the repeated transfer of wisdom. But I’m no expert when it comes to education. Perhaps he doesn’t test well.
What are some of the books you’ve re-read, and why?