Scansion and Color-Marking

I never thought teaching would involve so much learning.  Granted, I learned scansion back in college, but I don’t think I paid very much attention to it, because I feel like I’m doing all of it over again for the first time.  What is scansion, you ask?  Only the classifying of each syllable as stressed or unstressed in a line of poetry.  The unstressed/stressed accents then get grouped into feet.  Depending on the order each foot has a different name.  It’s really not too bad, just a lot of re-learning.

And then color-marking?  Well, it’s creating a visual map of a poem.  It also happens to be a very quick way to analyze poetry, something we’re struggling with this year.  (By “we” I mean the students, not myself).  So, for analyzing Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” students highlight all the personal pronouns, all the demonstrative pronouns, any imagery having to do with emptiness, and any imagery having to do with fullness, etc.  And having done that, they should be able to make some guesses as to the central purpose of the poem.

Some days it hits how much has changed.  Last year at this time I was in the same place I’d been for the past four years.  My roommate was my RA my freshman year of college (also probably the first student I met at Hillsdale, HS is a close second).  I used to sit at my desk and hope that a task would fall in my lap.  Or I’d quietly work away on a project.  Now I’m up by 6 am.  No later.  Ever.  6am is sleeping in.  I’ve had two cups of coffee by 8 am.  I spend my first half hour wrangling lunch tickets, fielding questions (where is Wellington Plaza and what restaurants do they have there? Will there be kissing in Julius Caesar?  Why do we have to pay for tickets to the dance?  Why do teachers always tell us to ask the principal if we have too many questions?)  After that it’s off to class.  More questions.  Some on topic.  Some very personal.  Then I do the lunch lady routine.  I pretend that their food is appetizing and make sure everyone gets their milk.  I worry when students are late for lunch (are they coming in late because they want to avoid the moment of having to find a seat?) or the same student refuses lunch for the third day in a row (is this an alarming pattern?).

Today I spent an hour making posters and cutting awesome, mod shapes out of neon poster-board.  A year ago I didn’t know most of the people I see everyday.   Most of the time I never stop and think about it, but it’s a very strange thing, making a new life in a new place.  I would be exhausted more often if I stopped to think about it.  Luckily, I’m too busy for thought (except for now), and I just go about making a life.

p.s. I found a church that I like.  It happens to be a church of the magic cross, which is a double bonus.  It also looks reassuringly like every other LCMS church.  What’s funny is that it’s dropped into the middle of one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Boston.  Yet this little church could easily be sitting somewhere in the mid-west.


6 thoughts on “Scansion and Color-Marking

    1. Church of the Magic Cross is a family joke. The LCMS has a special cross logo that lets you know you’re at a LCMS church and not a WELS or ELCA house of worship. So…I think that Sufjan will be nothing like a church of the magic cross service. If it was, you might be sorely disappointed.

  1. I envy you! Not the getting up at 6am part (as that is closer to when I go to bed than when I arise) but the teaching-kids-who-maybe-actually-care-a-little-about-something-you-actually-enjoy part. I never minded scansion, but I remember color marking from high school and having a fit about it, probably because I disliked my teacher.

    1. Yeah…I don’t know if I could do what you do. Also, I can punish if I have to. As I recall, you don’t have a lot of options for making kids do things. Worse comes to worse I tell them that they can highlight all the possessive pronouns in their poem or they can talk to the principal.

  2. Wow sir I am so glad I am not in your English class I think I would be an epic FAIL! I am glad you are keeping busy so you don’t miss me too much! We can go drinking when I get home! Also we both can have Ali drive us around very scary thought! I will give you a call in the near future, that being probably wed!

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