Thursday, December 20, 2012

Should We Believe?

I apologize because it has been quite a while since I've posted to this blog. In light of the holiday season and an essay that I've thorougly enjoyed, I thought I'd post this assignment and my in-class essay (It's not perfect, but I forced myself to stay true to what I was able to write in the same amount of time my students had).  Nowadays, there is so much that happens in society that tests our beliefs and faith.  This essay moved me and my students to grapple with the value "of believing in things when common sense tells you not to."

Miracle on 34th Street Essay

Directions: Watch the movie and answer the following questions. Make sure the responses are in complete sentences, answer the questions, include examples and/or proof, and explanations of how the examples support the response.
1. Do Macy’s employees treat Kris fairly? Are they responsible for Kris’s prosecution or is it Kris’s fault? Consider the actions of Macy’s employees and Kris from the beginning of the film.

2. Is Judge Harper’s verdict justified? Explain why or why not.

3. ESSAY: Should children be raised to believe in fairy tales and other imaginative figures? Write an argument that defends Susan’s mother’s (Doris) perspective at the beginning of the film (that it is harmful to teach children to believe in Santa Claus or other imaginative beings) or defends Fred Gailey and Kris’s perspective (that encourages those beliefs).

Ms. Vihonski’s Essay:

“Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” - Doris from Miracle on 34th Street
     There is nothing more heartwarming than seeing children’s joy and wonderment on Christmas morning when Santa has arrived. The spirit of Christmas is often captured in children and their happiness. It would be a great tragedy if society stopped encouraging people to believe in Santa Claus or other figures that foster their imagination and happiness.

     In Miracle on 34th Street, it is understandable that Doris wants to protect her daughter by only telling her the truth and teaching her about the real world. However, I support Kris’s view that Doris and Susan are like “lost souls” at the beginning of the film. Doris is so bound by reality that she has little faith in anyone or anything. With Kris and Mr. Gailey’s company, Doris and Susan’s lives improve as they begin to trust people more and enjoy themselves. When Kris teaches Susan to have an imagination and how to pretend, it then enables Susan to better make friends and not keep to herself. The end of the film proves the profound benefit of their new faith as it shows their happiness as a new family in a new home.
     Genuine faith is not easily to acquire later in life as Doris does. Society should cultivate and treasure children’s beliefs in Santa Claus and other imaginative beings as they can bring great joy and happiness to children and all those around them.

Monday, June 11, 2012

One English Teacher's Move

One English Teacher’s Move
Michelle Blakely

Six boxes of books.
Ranging from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
to a Teacher’s Guide to Teaching Shakespeare.
Reluctantly leaving behind the Jodi Picoults
and the extra copies of Amy Tan’s books.
Most came from avidly seeking out library book sales.

Five boxes of miscellaneous school supplies.
Heavy duty sets of hanging file folders
bought at whole sale five years ago.
A pen holder made in a ceramics class
highlighting favorite authors’ names. 

Four quilts from years of teaching American literature (except year one).
They represent students’ values—their personalities.
No need for any photos.  Like America itself, so nicely woven
together, but uniquely standing out. 

Three packed folders of memorable student work. 
That may not seem like a lot,
but most is accessible digitally.

Two desks that were once cluttered with massive writings and assignments and pens and broken staplers,  
slowly emptying to their clean bare beginnings.

One personal item: a framed engagement photo.