By Mr. Fritter | Guest Writer
Mr. Fritter is an English teacher at Nathan M. Cow Middle School.
First, because I’m an eighth grade teacher…let’s begin with everybody’s favorite activity—A POP QUIZ!
Huckleberry Finn. The Catcher in the Rye. Cuisinart Chef Model Blender Quick Start Guide. All three are incredible works, but only one of them will help me get the most out of my Cuisinart blender. Guess which I consider required reading! I’ll await your answer…
If you guessed The Cuisinart Chef Model Blender Quick Start Guide, then you must’ve done the reading this week because you’re spot on! Well done! But if you think this booklet is nothing more than a dry screed detailing the working aspects of a common blender then I need to teach you to read between the lines!
Is there a kind of gentler detergent that may work on the blades, without causing them to wear out? If so, why?
In fact, the booklet contains incredibly insightful advice on the motivations of the blender. Consider, for example, page 4b on the Quick Start manual where it describes the laborious method by which a user is to clean the blades. The dishwasher, it proclaims, is “not appropriate for the blades, which must be hand washed.” Why is this? Why do the blades yearn for human connection at such a basic level? Is there a kind of gentler detergent that may work on the blades, without causing them to wear out? If so, why? And if not, provide an alternate way you think the blades can be washed other than manually. Walt Whitman’s words expressed similar yearnings, to connect the natural world with human souls. Raymond Carver could only dream of sentences to plain-spoken.
On the final, students read the timeless Panasonic HD4508 LCC TV E-Z Setup
On the final, students read the timeless Panasonic HD4508 LCC TV E-Z Setup, a cryptic treatise to a television that refuses to work, no matter what the user asks of it. It also happens to be the television I was having great difficulty installing in my bedroom at the time. The essay question is Why can’t I go to my ‘TV channels’ page instead of having to manually flip through every freaking channel? A purely hypothetical situation, of course, but the student’s insights provided great clarity into the enigmatic machine.
I know I will have succeeded as a teacher when my kids go off into the real world having spoken truth to power. Literature is a gift. An author’s thoughts are placed elegantly on the page only for us to ponder a truer meaning. Especially when there’s no illustrations.
I will be teaching a 300 course, AP Ikea Furniture, in the fall. Good luck with that. ♦
Nate Odenkirk is pretty sure he got a B in eighth grade English.