Speaking of new blogs, Will Fitzhugh, the legendary editor and proprietor The Concord Review is now blogging. Stop by and wish him well. TCR as you may know (or if you don’t you should) is the only place on God’s green Earth where outstanding high school students can publish essays on history–nearly 900 of them in 22 years. Fitzhugh is a resistance fighter in the insurgency against the dumbing down of curriculum and bad writing. His debut post bemoans the reduction of student writing to a simplistic process.
When teaching our students to write, not only are standards set very low in most high schools, limiting students to the five-paragraph essay, responses to a document-based question, or the personal (or college) essay about matters which are often no one else’s business, but we often so load up students with formulae and guidelines that the importance of writing when the author has something to say gets lost in the maze of processes.
And one more blog that recently crossed my radar screen: the wonderfully titled Better Living Through Beowulf, which is dedicated to exploring “how great literature can change your life.” English professor Robin Bates is the blogger. Beautiful design, too. Check out this post on how the argument over the Indianapolis Colts benching their starters after clinching the playoffs, despite a 14-0 record, is really a debate between romanticism and classicism:
Romantics live for the moment, celebrate individual glory, and go for the grand gesture. Classics are practical, they subordinate the individual, and they keep their eye on the final trophy. Romantics wanted perfection, classics could live with the Colts’ decision.
The romantics’ credo, Bates observes, is famously captured in a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay:
I burn my candle at both ends
It will not last the night
But ah my foes and oh my friends
It gives a lovely light.
Great stuff. Put ‘em both in your blog reader.