Dear 8th Block...Posted by Scott Wood on 5/27/2018 7:00:00 PM
For 8th block, the class that has suffered with me the most this year, I decided to enumerate a post just for you all. The art was superb, yet the memories from this year make it all the better. Let's begin...
Lena - Look, you bully, your art is amazing. The references to 1984 are compelling and dreadful, yet I love that there are multiple references to other works that we read this year (at least, that's what my soul sees). I can't believe that you used me as your subject--of course it makes perfect sense given my rugged good-looks--but the humor presented is wonderfully satirical. Thank you for bothering Karen all year; she deserved it. Great job.
Alexandra, Phung, and Virginia - Each of your artistic talents were on display for your entries; it will be an honor to hang your trifecta of art upon my wall. As for each of you ladies:
Alexandra, you are a quiet young woman with a smile that forcibly makes me smile as well. Thank you for your attention and your attendance, your hard work and your excellent writing. You made my year better.
Phung, I think we need to take a moment here to discuss your predilection for violence, your blatant animosity towards me...and most importantly, how much I enjoyed having you in my class. You are a gifted artist and a passionately reserved woman. Thank you for putting up with me all year. Oh, and thanks for FINALLY saying that I was pronouncing your name wrong. Courage.
Virginia, your quirkiness, your insight, and your endless doodles of animals, have opened my eyes to a beauty that must be recognized. You are always diligent, always observant, and always able to make me laugh. Thank you for your hard work and attention. It's students like you that make my job incredibly easy.
Kat - I must admit something: many times this year, you and I would have a conversation; when the conversation was over, I believe 87% of the time neither of us had any idea what was said. It was awkward brilliance. All that being said, you created a beautiful piece of art and finished the year strong. Excellent job. Excellent awkward job.
Andrew - Would it be too much to say that I'm afraid of you? Strangely enough, it isn't because of your voice, height, or sociopathic stare. I'm afraid that you may actually be a good man. Scary, I know, but you may be in danger of being insightful to the benefit of others. Keep it in mind. Your art was pretty cool.
Jacob, Paolo, and Saul - Music and visual art? An excellent essay?! ARE YOU GUYS TRYING TO SHOW OFF?! Don't get it mistaken', talent showed in the entire project. Listen...right now...RIGHT NOW AS I TYPE THIS...I am watching highlights of the ever-gentle DrDisRespect laying waste to the competition; I suggest you three gentlemen do the same as you progress through life. Only the best. Individually:
Jacob, when the time comes for someone to build me a gaming PC, I think that person should be you (I would pay you of course). Keep in touch as you embark on the next step of your life.
Paolo, no, I haven't watched the Doom trailer, and no, I never told the story from the Darwin awards that you so desired to hear. Well, I guess there's always time after graduation for us to share stories; that being said, I'm here if ever you should need anything.
Saul, I feel that I let you down at the beginning of the year because I didn't start up a chess team. However, since that time, I shared philosophy with you, engaged in heart-felt discussions, and, according to Meg, also sexually harassed you. Whatever. You're a good man, so keep in touch.
Karen and Sharif - If there was an award ceremony for the most random, awkward, glorious, funny, and spectacular film of all time, your artistic entry would win hands down. With surprise appearances by Blake and Saira, gratuitous lipstick and overly-focused eye-contact, coupled with cinematography filmed by God's own hands...this submission kept me on the edge of my seat...and the edge of diarrhea. The amount of time you two put into this is impressive in and of itself. Both of you contributed your own sense of aesthetics to this project, and it shows. You two are an interesting team:
Karen is quirky and quiet,
Sharif is, basically, a dad.
Thank you both for all your work this year. Karen, my dear, you made it through. I'm proud of you.
Amahya and Kelly - Before I say anything, it looks like you put "salt" on your drawing--are you trying to tell me something?! Are you two ladies getting salty with me? Anyhoo, thank you for your care and thought on this project; you both finished the year strong, and there isn't much more I can ask of my students.
Amahya, you struggled at the beginning of the year, but I watched your writing and reading skills improve as the year went on. Congrats on finishing your senior year. Always remember, we will always have a deep connection through our association with Big Rob...
Kelly, it still surprises me how hard you laugh at Sharif's jokes; even when they're bad jokes, I hear your uproarious laughter. You're a good good, and a good strong. Out of all my classes, I will readily admit that no one has a better attitude than you; no one brought more positive energy than you. Thanks for keeping Lena in check, thereby preventing her from harassing Karen any more than she already does...
Megan - At this very moment, I am at a loss for words. I honestly don't know what to say to you. Well, despite your constant criticism and derision, your blatant disrespect and animosity, and your hurtful and chastising comments, I shall always remember you. Your artistic experiment was excellent, as was witnessing the gentle struggle that you endured. I wish you only the best in the future. If you ever need anything, I'm here for you. Somehow, however, I doubt that you will ever ask...
Tyelor, Joy, and Nicholas - First, I want to thank all three of you for your excellent artistic submission. Beautiful art and beautiful explanation yielded an excellent project to end the year. I expected no less from you three.
Tyelor, we will always have two defining moments: the day I took your phone and you never knew, and the day that you blessed us all with the greatest line of all time - "What are you gonna do, FALL IN LOVE?!"
Joy, your words of appreciation from the DHS video truly moved my heart. Thank you for recognizing me. I would like to thank you for your smile, your genuine attitude, and for the day that I waved at you from my car and you completely ignored me. Now, THAT is appreciation...
Nicholas, how's about you do us all a big favor...lay off of the jokes for just a little bit. I fear you may be scaring the children, and by children, I mean ALL the children. Anyhoo, I want to thank you for your thoughtful comments throughout the year, your ability to look upon the positive side in life, and for the extreme candor in discussing your father. I shall never forget you.
Amie - If I'm going to be completely honest, your submission was incredible. I was impressed with the music, the editing, the fragmentation, and the dancing. It depicted the creative process as something fractured; oddly enough, it also mimics my impression of the state of the human soul: at once at rest, and at once dynamically driven. Excellent work as always. Keep the creative process working in whatever passions grab you in adult life. Don't let the pale fire fade; feed it with the arts.
Damien - Dearest son, there have been times that I truly desired to put you up for adoption; luckily, through thick and thin, I decided to continue claiming you as my own, to my own chagrin. You know, I'm fairly certain that you could have applied yourself and done extremely well in my class, but I would estimate that your greatest obstacle in life is simply effort. Yet, in despite of all your deficiencies...I still love you as my child.
Sulema and Kayla - I always knew that Sulema had a penchant for photography, but creativity and aesthetics really showed in your submission. Couple that with the wordy response in the essay--a stylistic element symptomatic of the great Kayla--and you have a brilliant project.
Sulema, in spite of your self-deprecating humor, always remember your self-worth; you make the world a better place by the simplicity of your existence. Thank you for being a part of my class, thank you for your honesty, and thank you for your heart.
Kayla, being one of my most quiet students, it normally draws the wrath of my constant attention; I admit that this is somewhat of a fault of mine, but I really don't care. Thanks for putting up with my abrasive nature, and doing it with a graceful smile.
Saira and Natalya - Even though I watched Saira make last minute changes to the project while other students presented, there was adequate thematic relation between your art and Jane Eyre. Hell, I was just excited that Saira showed up for class...
Saira, as you read this, you will probably not be in my classroom...this is quite similar to the entirety of this year; however, when you actually were in class, I felt you contributed with thoughtful insight...when you actually were in class. Make sure that your academic attendance is better as you progress through the next level; it'll kill you if you don't...
Natalya, I shall never forget your TWS at the beginning of second semester: "I have been absent since last week. I don't know what we are doing." The same could have been said at multiple times during the entire year...as you were adrift, plunged into the world of a teenager with a smart phone. Yet, through it all, you fought through it and stayed in my class. Most impressive...especially that TWS that I mentioned...
Lydia - Never has there been a student with such little fear when it comes to correcting their teacher. Well, I mean there is Meg, but you were never an upstart jerk. That being said, I'm glad that you were my reprogrammer, my critic, and my brutally honest mirror. You are a gifted young woman with so much a head of you; I know that you will relish these years, use them to your utmost advantage, and become anything that you want. I believe in you, and I wish you only the best.
To you all, thank you for an amazing first year of AP English. I have enjoyed discussing literature about as much as you all wanted me to stop discussing literature. It's a beautiful thing, and it was an honor sharing the classroom with each of you. Godspeed...
Art Makes Life MeaningfulPosted by Scott Wood on 5/24/2018 9:00:00 PM
Overall, and in the greatest sense, I was beyond pleased with the submissions. First and foremost, grades are entered. Lowest grades are dropped. Email me this weekend with questions....
With all the "business time" (Sharif, look it up) outta the way, let me get into my impressions of some of the outstanding art:
Madison and Malia (who was conspicuously absent) - Not only did this art spark discussion and get me fired up, it also depicted the notorious idea of the "taboo," coupled with the glorious beauty of that which is the feminine. Yes, I am an old-fashioned man; the female is truly the most beautiful, turning manhood into a quivering mass of ugliness. Beyond that, your images depicting the limitation and objectification of women--which I took on a whole new route upon the innate human desire of objectification--revealed something deep within our patriarchal structure: women are not as free as men. Brilliant.
Genesis - Holy moly, there is a woman truly holy. I was blown away by your painting. Thank you for sharing your passion, your love, and, for sure and for certain, the greatness of your mother. You've come a long way. The voyage was well worth it.
Mckenna - I am hard-pressed to point out another piece of art that was as representative, as thematic, and as beautiful...as your creation. Boom goes the dynamite. Couple that with your astounding explanation in the essay, and you may be the best example of the heart and soul of this project. You impressed me with your politeness with my family; you demolish me with your art. Well done.
Taylor - WOW. Now, I know poetry. What you wrote was heartfelt. Thinking of your source material, I may exude the theory that you matched the tone. It reminded me of my high school love, and that's a great thing. Love cannot be separated from longing in its purest form; you resonated this emotion.
Hannah - If you ever call the poem that you wrote "trash" again, I swear to Margaret Thomas that we will never speak again. It was glorious.
William - The written word is not your strongest suit, and you are a man of little (and often offensive) words; however, your piece of art struck me. As you know, I love Ozymandias, and your depiction really connected with my core. Take that, and blend it with the fact that you printed me a copy of your art mere minutes later...I am quite pleased. It's already displayed on my wall.
Alejandra - Recognizing that you will have to suffer through my presence another year, I hope you know that your original abstract drawing of me was the first to ordain my "Doors of Perception." By the by, that is a Huxley reference, and also the origin of the namesake that is The Doors--possibly the greatest psychedelic rock 'n roll band of all time. Anyhoo, your art is spectacular; remember to put that same effort into other avenues and you will lead a successful life.
Kevin - We didn't get to play your piece of music during class, and I must admit that it upsets me. I listened as I read your essay; young Dedalus spoke to me in that moment, and the building clarinet revealed the inner consciousness of a boy turned to man. It was inspiring; you, my quiet friend, have a gift.
Jenna, Luna, and Athziri - The physical representation of the themes in 1984 may sound simple, but you three executed it exquisitely. Your model showed more than the aspect of surveillance; in actuality, as a piece of art, it created a sense of dread. Oh, and in case you were wondering, when art makes people feel "some kind of way," you have truly accomplished a level of aesthetics.
David - Dark and brooding, obsessive and maddening, your story brings goosebumps. Isn't that the whole point? Take a moment to think about the emotions you poured forth upon the page, amidst a class full of students, with ear-buds in place, delving upon the page. Your passion is evident, yet ask yourself the question: "what does this mean to me in 10 years time?" Perspective, my friend, adds more than you could ever imagine.
I'm going out for the night. However, I'm giving you, dear gentle giants, your own entry.
Check in tomorrow.
-Scott B. Wood
"It was the best of times...," and it is the end of times.Posted by Scott Wood on 5/23/2018 8:00:00 PM
My dearest seniors,
The recognition of this moment is moment enough. I have found an epiphany in this epoch, and go figure...
Here, and now, from this point forth...you shall start to become an adult....
No, none of you are adults now, and that is beautiful.
Revel in this truth.
For I share with you all a quote from my favourite philosopher of the technological age:
"Christianity did not know that his purpose was the alleviation of cruelty, Newton did not know that his purpose was modern technology, the Romantic poets did not know that their purpose was to contribute to the development of an ethical consciousness suitable for the culture of political liberalism. But we now know these things, for we latecomers can tell the story of progress which those who are actually making progress cannot. We can view these people as toolmakers rather than discovers because we have a clear sense of the product which the use of these tools produced. The product is us--our conscience, our culture, our form of life. Those who made us possible could not have envisaged what they were making possible, and so could not have described the ends to which their work was a means. But we can."
...and with it, I attach a simple quote:
"Life must be lived forwards, but only understood backwards."
Foolish young people, all adults have been teenagers. Never forget the simple truth that though times change, the changes of the human body from childhood to adulthood seemingly never do. It is the glory of humanity.
Always remember these times of your life, laugh at your hideous mistakes, and thusly...
Don't make them again.
For I am not the future, yet all of you are certainly, and exactly, that.
-Scott B. Wood
Through Stream of Consciousness...Merely Thoughts RemainPosted by Scott Wood on 5/3/2018 8:00:00 PM
Finalizing A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and beginning Catch-22, I am reminded of myself. "Don't get it mistaken'," this sounds extremely selfish at first read; it isn't intentional. It is merely my truth.
I have desired to grow into an artist since I was a child. This is my childhood dream. However, as I aged, I realized that becoming an artist today is one of the most difficult tasks in the world; I would argue, strongly, that it is easier to become a professional athlete in our technological society than it is to become an artist. Allow me to clarify....
Human understanding, comprehension, and basic intake of knowledge, has become powerfully visual. At this point, if you are unclear, please search the word "meme" on a device connected to the internet.
Regarding my reference to sports, my point is thus: athletic events are more viewed than the artistic; the Oscars is the only event that draws more viewership than a sporting event, and even in that regard...IT'S STILL VISUAL.
Has linguistic art, the most symbolic art, disappeared from all existence?
Understandably, the boldness of this claim is uncanny, yet I make it without a wink, a flicker, a doubt, or a moments hesitation.
Art is losing ground.
For the sake of definition, art is not necessarily entertainment; tragedy, for an example, is profound and beautiful art. It is not pleasurable. Feeling morbidly sad, in many respects, is not considered to be an enjoyable act. Entertainment, by definition, is meant to be enjoyable. Define entertainment semantically or morally if you prefer. Philosophically, the choice matters not. Each path leads to a similar conclusion....
My proclamation is thus: modern humanity--of all modern culture--is consumed with that which entertains us.
Picture this: a person approaches all of Meaning.
(S)he says, "I want to be entertained at all times."
Meaning replies, "If that is the case, then you will have to sacrifice a part of me."
The person replies, "Sure."
Contemplating this hypothetical, I have come to my own conclusions: enjoyment, laughter, pleasure, and all the multitude of joyful emotions combined into one gigantic ardourful salad could never cause me to believe that art--and learning for that matter--should always be the same thing. If that was the case, then the novel, short story, family story, folk tale, poem, ballad, song, album, short film, and film that makes us cry would be non-existent.
These realms of art are not non-existent. I fear, mind you, that they are dying.
Strangely enough, I worry most that these important human emotions have become bad horror films at which young people giggle, or terrifying footage of the 9-11 attack that cause uproarious laughter...both of which I have seen with my own eyes.
So what can we say of the great population of society that has lost touch with being human? More importantly, have we ALL lost some sort of touch with the integral emotion of empathy?
In my short life span and limited experience, I have this at the forefront of my mind: if you have the ability to teach a young person something of the world of art and culture, that which is the representation of the true human condition, then by God, you do it.
Can we not all become artists? Even if we pale in comparison to Daedalus?
P.S. An entry on satirical humor--and essentially my ridiculous and non-philosophical side--coming soon. I promise not to be so depressing.
First semester over, here comes 2018Posted by Scott Wood on 12/18/2017
Only three days of classes remain this semester, then we all bid adieu to the first half of the 2017/2018 school year. My first journey through AP ENG IV provided me with enormous areas of improvement, and I hope to take what I have learned and apply it to my plans for next semester. As I will be relaxing with family and friends this holiday season, my mind shall always fall back on literature, teaching, writing, learning, and listening. I strongly believe that as I watch my students apply themselves, and in doing so, show significant improvement, I must do the same myself. My earnest hope is that next semester will be better than the first.
And what have we learned? Well, we certainly have explored two definitive examples of human government run amuck, whether through the over application of science or cruelty, the manipulation of reality, or the misconstrued conception of human equality. Dystopian novels give us hope, despite witnessing the failure of significant characters. It is in their failures that we bond our desire to make the world a better place, never allowing it to fall into a state of ruinous contempt. Beyond that, we were also introduced to the beauty of Jane Eyre, and a woman's honest desire to become an individual in a patriarchal society. I connect with Jane on many levels, for as she desires her beloved Rochester, I myself want the same love from a woman, yet, I am constantly compelled to focus on my individuality and career despite this ardent wish. This internal conflict exists within all modern intellectuals, recognizing the beauty of earthly companionship yet yearning for individual solidarity. My legacy is important to me, but then again, I would like to share that legacy with someone I love deeply.
Last, in this final post before Christmas break, I wish to say that I am truly filled with the holiday spirit. It is a wonderful time of year (even though the ridiculous weather has taken away from it slightly). I hope that you, dear reader, enjoy time with those that you love; I hope that you spread and share love with those around you, whether known or unknown; I hope that whatever your religion or creed, this winter brings not coldness, but warmth and affection. Godspeed.
New Perspective: Old PerspectivePosted by Scott Wood on 11/12/2017
A woman who taught for over 30 years walked in with Ms. Thomas on Friday. She had something to say.
She said that for most seniors--those who are not in AP--benefit from more than merely teaching the writing process. She listened for years; she learned from her dyslexic son. In my mind, she knew something that I did not. She knew more.
Upon recollection, I realize she has a profound knowledge. Many young people that pass through my doors simply do not understand how to communicate with people on a professional level. Is it this simple? Have we touched upon a nerve long undone? Or, more simply, has she recognized a deficiency in education?
I await our next meeting with poise and gentile affection. She knows more than I do.
My ability lies in reading and redirecting students. I could benefit from a wealth of knowledge. Luckily, I always have Ms. Thomas on my side.
We can't always have guardian angels...
The Human DiaryPosted by Scott Wood on 9/10/2017
I read a student's personal narrative today; (s)he said that her(his) relationship was that of a "human diary" to her(his) best friend. This struck me.
How much do we remember of our loved ones? Do we set about to memorize their words or take them in and make them our own? How much of our brilliance is because of those gifted few that touched our lives and made them better?
I could ask...and ask these questions until time stands still. However, the only reality I would experience is the loss of time with those that I hold dear. I know now that in the midst of hard work, dedication, and brillance, one must take the time to be around people that are wonderful and worth loving.
I am blessed to have family that fills this description.
Not everyone is. We all walk a path that is beset with horror and beauty yet all in our own fashion. It is glorious and terrifying. It is wholly unbearable at times.
We must persevere. We must endure. Speak your pain and I will listen...it is my duty as an educator, a proctor, a rector, a philosopher, a lover of language. A scholar.
"I have a moral responsibility to my students. I shall uphold this." My morning starts each day. I breathe in and out. Who comes first?
This is the hardest job; I relish the opportunity. I enjoy the struggle; it pushes me ever forward. Indeed, there is always a young heart and mind that needs that spark...
From darkness...there comes light. Only with the human hand.
Howard the GreatPosted by Scott Wood on 9/7/2017
About 10 years ago, my grandfather passed on to the next plane. Because he was so dear to me, I asked if I could speak at his funeral. This was the first funeral I ever attended. I chose a poem by Emily Dickinson to read:
To know just how he suffered would be dear;
To know if any human eyes were near
To whom he could intrust his wavering gaze,
Until it settled firm on Paradise.
To know if he was patient, part content,
Was dying as he thought, or different;
Was it a pleasant day to die,
And did the sunshine face his way?
What was his furthest mind, of home, or God,
Or what the distant say
At news that he ceased human nature
On such a day?
And wishes, had he any?
Just his sigh, accented,
Had been legible to me.
And was he confident until
Ill fluttered out in everlasting well?
And if he spoke, what name was best,
What one broke off with
At the drowsiest?
Was he afraid, or tranquil?
Might he know
How conscious consciousness could grow,
Till love that was, and love too blest to be,
Meet--and the junction be Eternity?
My grandfather was one of the kindest, most noble, genuine, and respectful men I knew. Strangely enough, I would say that my own father falls into this category. I write this blog post for one reason: take the time to tell those that you love how much you care. Never miss an opportunity to share the love that you feel with the most important people in your life.
Time takes its toll on us all.
The TeenPosted by Scott Wood on 8/31/2017 10:00:00 PM
If I thinned and shrunk...
If the creases in my face slowly disappeared...
If scars on my forehead smoothed over...
If each grey hair returned to brown...
If my beard thinned out and grew patchy...
If I lost most of the hair on my chest...
If I returned to High School and occupied a desk...would I be any different?
Would I be more resilient? Proud?
Would I stun my very self...laying witness to my own actions...
Realizing that self-control is not such a simple concept...
During the formulation of that which I take for granted...
Recognizing the importance of patience...
Amongst those that have immediacy readily at hand...
In the moment it is desired...
In my epoch of ancient, idiosyncratic memory...
I wasn't so different from the teens...
A Note on "Ozymandias."Posted by Scott Wood on 8/29/2017 7:00:00 PM
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
This was the second poem dissected in my ENG IV AP class. First question: have you read it? Second question: what does it mean to you?
Power, it seems, is within all human hands...and minds. We can all create; we can all destroy. There is no mystery in these words. Unless...
Does power corrupt? Recent comic films have broached this topic; Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice examined this very concept. Was Superman too powerful? Did it necessitate a human, namely Batman, to "reel him in?"
My thoughts on this ongoing issue are thus: my creation, my "works," are the sheer performance of my students. If they fail, then perhaps, so have I.
In relation to the poem, Shelley wishes mankind to understand that our creations, in the physical sense, shall always fall to ruin. Our ideas and beliefs, however, are a completely different story all together. All this being said as I review the poem again, I would not want despair to be the lasting impression on mankind. Therefore, I would change one word:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and HOPE!"
For the poem reveals a truth of our world: all things built by man must inevitably fall to ruin...except...
Our memories as words...our beliefs...our hopes...our dreams...
Human memory, spoken word, and written language all combine to create what we know as "belief."
And it lives on forever, as long as humans breathe...
In the lungs of those that come after, ponder this.