Love + Stories Project
Updated: Aug 20
Every year, I create a year-long project that attempts to tie everything together for my students. It includes personal narratives, politics, culture, art, interviews/conversations, podcasts, and videos. It’s a way to keep things cohesive and gives all the conversations a point, something they can remember, that allows them to do something with what they learned. It helps them see the world through literature: the fictional worlds we explore have a place in our society today. They want to know that the stories they read can help them understand everything – politics, science, music, history, themselves, their relationships, the universe. I teach seniors, so I’m always thinking about who they will be when they leave the classroom. What will they take with them when they go? What memories from their education and their life will inspire them? Will they understand themselves and what will they do with that knowledge? What will they love?
For a number of different reasons, I thought of love this year. I’ve been thinking of all the people who now look for connections from behind a screen. Can we still experience love this way? Love is what drives us. It’s the fuel of life. It’s at the core of our relationships and our work. It's not just an emotion, it's a way of life, and the mystery of love eludes us around every corner. I’ve been thinking of people staying at home for months on end, all alone, of scientists scrambling to make sense of the pandemic, of racial conflict, of injustice, of journalists reporting the facts, of politicians scrambling for answers and solutions, of workers making sense of the future.
Our country and our world has been through a lot over the years, and we have always recovered. We emerge a little different, but we recover. We’re resilient. But right now, I think we need to have a good conversation about love and what it means. Here are some quotes from texts that I teach that will guide my project:
“It was love, she thought, pretending to move her canvas, distilled and filtered; love that never attempted to clutch its object; but, like the love which mathematicians bear their symbols, or poets their phrases, was meant to be spread over the world and become part of the human gain. So it was indeed. The world by all means should have shared it, could Mr. Bankes have said why that woman pleased him so; why the sight of her reading a fairy tale to her boy had upon him precisely the same effect as the solution of a scientific problem, so that he rested in contemplation of it, and felt, as he felt when he had proved something absolute about the digestive system of plants, that barbarity was tamed, the reign of chaos subdued.” To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
“Through all the years of this our life, to lead From joy to joy: for she can so inform The mind that is within us, so impress With quietness and beauty, and so feed With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues, Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men, Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all The dreary intercourse of daily life, Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold Is full of blessings.”
“Tintern Abby” by William Wordsworth
“Then they all gathered around Sonny and Sonny played. Every now and again one of them seemed to say, amen. Sonny's fingers filled the air with life, his life. But that life contained so many others.” “Sonny’s Blues”, James Baldwin
online professional development for secondary ELA teachers