Finding Specific (vol. 2, no. 10)

Here are a few things I’m sharing this month

1. Question I’m living with:

  • “How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?” – Rebecca Solnit (A Field Guide to Getting Lost, p. 4)

2. Quote I’m considering:

  • “You are not here to be anything that you want, you are here to be something quite specific.” – Martin Shaw (Courting the Wild Twin, p. 100)

3. Poem I’m pondering:

To be of use by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

4. Something inspiring:

  • The song “Dawn” by Jacob Montague.

5. New blogs:

I’m writing a book on my pedagogy blogpost by blogpost. It’s called Rewild School. Anyways, here are some new entries:

  • Welcome to College – Are you willing to leave home? This is the ask of college. And, know that if you say “yes”, then it is my job to sting, disturb, question, poke, provoke and unsettle you.”
  • The Day I Met Gen Z – “One of the students no longer feels safe with you in the classroom” she said. “What do you mean?” I asked. “They no longer feel safe with you in the classroom” she repeated.
  • Fandom – “I tell my students that I am a Bengals fan, that my son can be anyone he wants to be and love anyone he wants to love but I get to choose his sports team, that my in-laws tried to make him a Ravens fan and that there is only one right answer to the question I am asking them.”
  • Being Disrupted – “For years, I’ve watched many of my colleagues in higher education decry with head-shaking frustration the so-called backward-looking reluctance of communities to embrace their disruption (especially, the green economy). Well, now, we’re the ones being disrupted. So, who knows, maybe now, after feeling the feels of being disrupted, some of my colleagues will develop a bit of empathy for those who have been living the life of disruption for years.”
  • Fear in the Classroom – “I sat at the head of the two beaten-up boardroom tables around which we gathered and I held court. I rarely (if ever) held court in this class. But I had to take this fear-induced uprising head on. Here’s what I said…”

If you’re reading this newsletter for the first time, you can read previous issues hereview lists of poems, questions, quotes and songs I’ve shared before here, and subscribe here.

Thanks so much. And, have a great day! – shawn