Friday, April 1, 2016

Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson

As a callow college student long ago, I served my time in Mrs. Robinson's English literature class. I despised Mrs. Robinson for reasons that had nothing to do with literature, but at long last I can admit that the professor had a real passion for her subject and she did her best to pass that passion along to her students.

She was particularly passionate about early English literature. She introduced us to Piers Plowman and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. She tried innovative ways of getting us involved in literature. When it came time to study Shakespeare, she had us list the plants that were mentioned by the bard in his works and then we planted a "Shakespeare garden" on the grounds of the college.

She was also a great believer in memorization of poetry. And so, when we got to Chaucer, she had us memorize the prologue to The Canterbury Tales in the original Middle English. Each of us then had to recite the prologue before our classmates in our best ME accent. I memorized it so thoroughly that even now, when I can't always remember what I had for breakfast yesterday or why I walked into this room, I can still recite that prologue.

So as April begins, here's to you, Mrs. Robinson, and thank you for giving me Chaucer. 



6 comments:

  1. I love this! I had a really mean, ex-Marine sargeant math teacher in what was called junior high in those days. He liked to pick on girls particularly. But he got me through pre-algebra-probably spite on my part because I was not going to let him win-and I became quite good at math. Unlike you I have blocked out his name. Now that I am reviewing the Shakespeare retellings that are coming out, I have a new appreciation for teachers who tried to let me in on the goodness of the bard. The Shakespeare Garden! What a great idea.

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    1. Sometimes the teachers who have an impact on us are not necessarily exemplary citizens, and yet we can still appreciate the gift they gave us and maybe forgive them in retrospect for some of the things that we found deplorable at the time.

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  2. What a great tribute to Mrs. Robinson! The teaching world is full of them.

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    1. Yes, the teaching world is full of flawed human beings who have a passion for their subject and try to pass it on. Thank goodness for them.

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  3. You said it all, Dorothy, in that last comment. As a former (flawed) teacher I hope someone believes I made a difference. Excellent posting. P. x

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    1. Well, we are all flawed. As some wise person once said, without my flaws there would be no me!

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