Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Planting seeds

Fall is coming on in just a few days.
The dying light is crushing, but the apples are divine....

If you're after getting the honey
Then you don't go killing all the bees.

Joe Strummer

I walk barefoot pretty much anytime the outside temperature is above 40° Fahrenheit and I'm not in a building. I used to worry about justifying this, but I'm old enough now that past primum non nocere, the joy of the act is enough.

A student brought me an apple yesterday--she picked it from a local orchard, and while I suppose it's unethical to accept gifts from students, especially ones that bring the unearthly, unbound joy an heirloom apple can bring, I ate it anyway.

Such is our story.

Joe Strummer wrote about Johnny Appleseed. They're both dead now, but they both still influence me. I hope a child in my class has reason to say the same a few decades from now. Teaching is a serious and joyful business.

Why else do it?

There are many great things about America that get buried in the noise of sycophants fawning for your vote. Johnny Appleseed is one of them. He was kind, he was tough, he loved life, and he was happy. He also happened to walk barefoot.

Johnny Appleseed was a primitive Christian, the kind who ignored the Constantinian corruption and whose image was, in turn, corrupted by Walt Disney. An apple tree was a "living sermon from God."

And today we've lost both the living sermon and the apple tree. Many, maybe most, of my students have lost the connection between the seed and the sustenance that keeps them alive.

So we plant a lot of seeds in Room B362.

If a few of them happen to be metaphorical, so be it.

I don't want to overstate the case, and that may be impossible anyway, but when we lose our connection to the dirt, we lose everything.
If you happen to be reading this Dave, I could really use a northern spie. Just one will do.


Unknown said...

Icarus falling. I hit the ground.


It's the story of this year for me. In the classroom, we'll plant seeds. I want them to see the connection, even if dimly, under the blast of the flickering fluorescent lights.

In two weeks, during Fall Break, I'm going to speak to a crowd in a state I have only visited once. I have no business talking to a crowded room before a stream of slides, hoping they'll see the images and miss the shaking man trying his best to spit out truth.

Five days later, I'll be back in a classroom.

Hopefully grounded.

doyle said...

Dear John,

Read your post a little while ago--Icarus is worth a lot more on the ground than in the sky.

Sounds like you had a wonderful moment. That's why we teach.

Jeffrey Michals-Brown said...

Michael Pollen (The Botany of Desire) reminds us that "eating" apples are clones (propagated from cuttings) of the few trees discovered to have good, sweet apples. Apples grown from seed are typically very sour. So the trees Johnny and his folk planted were for hard cider--by far the colonists' favorite beverage!