Sacrificing Our Sacred Cows: Rethinking the Literary Canon in Secondary English

      In my class, I refer to literature in two categories: Real Lit and Junk Lit. Real Lit means texts that you need to unpack, that have layers, that speak to the human condition. Junk Lit is mostly comprised of those free titles on the Amazon e-books list—you read them fast, but neverContinue reading “Sacrificing Our Sacred Cows: Rethinking the Literary Canon in Secondary English”

Stay Curious

“How do you fight cynicism? Stay curious.” This is my third year teaching at a school in the Kansas City area. Each of the past two years we have begun back-to-school teacher training with a sermon from a local pastor, a message reminding us of our duty to mold the children and young men andContinue reading “Stay Curious”

El Salvador: Birthdays

This past weekend was my birthday. I’m really close with my family, so it’s not always easy to be away from them during celebrations. However, living abroad has the unique advantage of celebrating in new ways. First, my school department took me to El Zócalo, one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in El Salvador. IContinue reading “El Salvador: Birthdays”

Read This: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

[Here is a piece of advice if you want to be better read and don’t know where to start: besides the “canonized” classics (Western AND non-Western), try reading Pulitzer Prize winning fiction or Nobel Prize authors. When I’m looking for new, contemporary fiction and I’m not sure what to read, I’ve recently been going toContinue reading “Read This: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen”

That’s Not Old English! (how to act like a total tool…and enjoy doing it!)

You know the person…the type of person who tries to act so sophisticated, like they know everything. They’re the people who say “That’s sooo bourgeois.” You know, like this… And yet, all of us secretly enjoy when we’re the overly smart ones. When we can stop someone and say, “Actually, you’re wrong…” with our noses in theContinue reading “That’s Not Old English! (how to act like a total tool…and enjoy doing it!)”

“Anne Frank Today is a Syrian Girl”

I love how literature stirs the imagination, takes us to Fairy Land, Camelot, Narnia, Middle Earth, and beyond. And based on my own worldview, I don’t see these motifs as escapism but actually congruous with my own beliefs in a way (another discussion). Nevertheless, literature is also supposed to keep us right where we are Continue reading ““Anne Frank Today is a Syrian Girl””

Resources (Literature and Beyond)

Okay, so this is my first full week teaching…exhausting. But exhilarating as well! I’m blessed to teach what I love. And when you teach what you love, you LOVE finding great resources. I’m very fond of various teaching methods, especially visuals and those that increase interaction. Thus, I wanted to share (unashamedly hoping some of my studentsContinue reading “Resources (Literature and Beyond)”

The Top and Bottom of My Wish List

My reading list is BIG… REAL BIG. And it’s always growing. At times I make the mistake of going out and buying a book as a way of adding it to my list even if I’m not ready at that exact moment to read it. Bad idea. Because by the time I get around toContinue reading “The Top and Bottom of My Wish List”

“What is Literature for?”

HERE is a wonderful video put together by The School of Life group. As in everything, we should not assume that our learners have answered the question: “Yes, but why is this important?” As a literature student and teacher, I know why I love my subject. But do my students? We need to help make that connectionContinue reading ““What is Literature for?””

Learning to Love to Read

*This is the first post. If you aren’t familiar with the purpose of the blog, please check out the page “Mr. Caleb” to learn more. Like nearly everything in life, reading is a discipline. It takes time and practice to develop good reading skills. But for many people I know, there’s also that book (orContinue reading “Learning to Love to Read”