Quick Write: “Suppse you could invite (a few) literary mentors into your own classroom. Who would they be?” (Spindel, 2005, p. 86). Why?
Ray Bradbury. F. Scott Fitzgerald. And Daniel Pink.
I’ve been and continue to be a dork in this life. My most memorable literature-reading experiences came from my freshman year with English teacher Kevin Brewner, who had a coffee addiction and eye sockets that would crack/pop when he pressed them. Between Brewner’s eccentrics and the fact that Bradbury was the first sci-fi author that I had read (outside of Star Wars spinoff novels…you know, those paperbacks that serve as stories after the movies), Fahrenheit 451 remains one of the cornerstone texts of my library.
I have always loved the future and technology that allows us to adventure. I’d ask Bradbury into the classroom to see how students would engage with his criticisms of our technology addictions these days. How would Bradbury react to the levels engagement, productivity, and connectedness that he sees in our 1:1 student:laptop environment? Could students have a conversation with him without electronic distractions (texts buzzing in their pockets, etc)? I find myself in quite a pendulum swing back-and-forth regarding when, where and how technology deepens our experiences, learning, relationships, etc. But, after having taught Fahrenheit, I wonder where he sees our cell phones, aerial drones and wire-tapping technologies shaping our students’s futures.
F. Scott Fitzgerald commands a level of layering in his writing that brings me such engagement each and every time I read Gatsby. His capstone novel so well captures some of our American dreams as well as nightmares.
Finally, as the only nonfiction author on my list, I would also like to add Daniel Pink. His engaging way of making cold facts more practical is what we need in this age of data-driven decisions. His thesis of A Whole New Mind applies very much to the idealistic visions of my own classroom.