Sunday, February 21, 2010

true realness

By Nick Sweeney, Grade 11

I am not dead. Drew does those sock puppet entries, and he's been mad at me and Mr. Smith lately, and I think he wanted to just make us go away for a while.

Anyway, Mr. Smith took me to Pasadena yesterday because he was attending a Children's Literacy dinner sponsored by the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association. I thought it was very cool because I got to meet a lot of authors, and the one thing that stuck out to me was how they all seemed so normal and next-door-neighbor-like, compared to Mr. Smith.

Besides, Mr. Smith was almost late to the dinner. He texted me to come and get him at a place called "The Yard House," which was just around the corner on Colorado Blvd. When I got there, looking for Mr. Smith, I saw that the place wasn't about lawn maintenance at all.

So, all I have to say is beware: Mr. Smith is getting on one of his kicks again about why boys hate reading, and what schools and society are doing to under-prepare boys for the changing economy.

On our walk back to the dinner, he said to me, "Nick, There's this study called Reading Don't Fix No Chevys (Smith & Wilhelm, 2003) where the authors talked to teenage boys about reading and English classes. One of the kids they talked to, who was in the same grade as you, told them, English is about nothing. That's part of the big problem, Nick. Boys need to have stuff that is about something. None of us are out there writing books so kids will have to answer comprehension questions or to do exercises or learn reading skills."

I realized that Mr. Smith pretty much nailed it why I hated my English class so much.

So, then he told me that I could write anything I wanted to in today's blog. I'm embarrassed to say that I wrote some pretty bad stuff that I'd never submit, but it felt good writing it.

Which made me think of a quote from one of Mr. Smith's "Gods," Ernest Hemingway (and don't jump all over me just because Mr. Smith likes Hemingway. I'm just telling you a quote):

All good books have one thing in common - they are truer than if they had really happened.

And, I think, maybe that sums it up... what Mr. Smith said about boys needing something real to grab onto in their reading. Good books, I guess.

But, like I said, look out. I think Mr. Smith is etting back on this kick again.

-- Nick S.