This could be a wonderful morning for writing: we are blanketed in snow, it is quiet in the house, and day seems long. Enter the two kids: the sixteen-month-old, who has somehow found a toilet brush to play with; and the three-year-old, who is hungry and demanding a “nola bar” for breakfast.
I love the name that Donald Murray gives to the interior conversations you have before writing begins: rehearsal. I have been thinking about a new book for some months now, sketching its rough contours in my mind–adding and subtracting ideas, finding words and phrases I like, thinking about starting and stopping places. If it is ever realized, the book is going to discuss teacher creativity and curriculum design–a favorite subject of mine lately. Technology will have a role, but it will be secondary, part of the larger, more sweeping idea of what it means to be a creative English teacher in the twenty-first century, and how to go about becoming one. The central vehicle will be theme and topic-based curricula that pair multiple genres (classic works, non-fiction, drama, young adult fiction, graphic novels, web material) in innovative ways. The text will cover eight to ten themes/topics, perhaps beginning with a chapter on, well, vampire literature.
The book will also have to say a few words about the forces working against teacher creativity–namely, pre-packaged curricula, standards-based teaching, commercial literature anthologies, and the Grendel behind it all, No Child Left Behind. It will have to take on the notion that there can be such a thing as teacher-proof curriculum–and that we should reward objectivity at all costs.
So, it is time to write, but I love the rehearsal, when everything is possible. That, and it is tough to get started when the kid who finished his granola bar now wants some juice.