Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bringin' it to the Burbs

At the gracious invitation of Lynda Grace Phillippsen, I spent Friday talking and reading to her English classes at Seaquam High School in Delta. Two of the classes were grade 9's two were grade 12's. The grade 12 sessions went pretty well, got some pretty good discussion going. Grade nine might be just a bit too junior for me, tho I could tell at least one or two in each group were mentally present. Also, they hadn't done any poetry yet in their class and hadn't looked at any of my stuff before I came, so they weren't really prepared.

Something that struck me is how little knowledge the students have of things that I take for granted as being common knowledge. One girl asked me if I knew any famous writers. I said I didn't know anyone really famous, then tried to think of the most famous writer I knew. I threw out George Elliott Clarke's name. Blank stares. Then, to get some idea of their frame of reference, I asked who had heard of Margaret Atwood. One person. Michael Ondaatje? None, tho one kid thought he'd heard of the English Patient movie. This probably means that their parents don't know the names either. Kind of puts things in perspective.

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