Friday April 20, 2012 - 10:35 PM

I spent a bit of time last night after posting on my blog browsing through Robert J. Sawyer’s website. Wow, Robbie wasn’t kidding. There’s lots of great stuff there.

It’s funny, way back when I first started this online journal, someone left a comment, I think it was that guy named Frank, telling me that I should consider writing as a career. I’m still not decided, but I started thinking about that a bit after visiting Sawyer’s website, and he also has some articles posted there about the art of writing. Pretty cool stuff.

Many of my classmates were on his site today, and we spent half of the class talking about Sawyer and his writing. Robbie suggested that we start with something like Hominids, which was set in Sudbury, and then read the next two books in the series. But he suggested, for those of us who weren’t in to reading a whole three books that we go with one of his earlier works. He’d mentioned that The Terminal Experiment, Sawyer’s Nebula Award winning book, was a favourite of many, and that an alien being tried in the courtroom in Illegal Alien was also an enjoyable one, particularly for anyone who liked courtroom thrillers or was a Law & Order fan.

I stayed after class today to talk to Robbie and tell him about some of the things I found on Sawyer’s site. I’d mentioned how Sawyer did really seem like a nice guy, often responding to comments that fans left on his blog.

Robbie suggested that I take the time to comment on his blog, to tell him I liked his writing, that it moved me. And then he loaned me a copy of Illegal Alien, which I took home and am eager to start reading. I was going to ask to borrow Hominids, but I’ve never read science fiction all that much before, so I think I’d like to start with the alien one. An alien on trial for murder in a U.S. court sounds like it could be fun. (Maybe I also didn’t want to read that rape scene -- listening to Robbie read it was emotional enough for me right now, thank you very much)

Robbie did something when we were chatting that surprised me a bit. He confided something to me. Apparently, when our guidance counselor got wind of the discussion we’d had in Robbie’s class yesterday, he’d complained to the principal that Robbie was stepping into his territory.

At a meeting in the principal’s office, Robbie defended his position, telling them that if the guidance counselor was going to address the issue of a student who had been raped, he certainly had a funny way of doing it by not doing anything. Then he went on to explain that the best way to introduce literature was to make it relevant to topics that were pertinent to students.

He said that the guidance counselor said something like: “Literature. Humph. I’ve heard what you’ve been reading and talking to students about. Science Fiction. Cave men. Aliens. Hack and slash horror. That’s not literature. That’s crap. Mind-wasting rubbish.”

Robbie said that he didn’t have to listen to that from someone who was not only ill-read and thought only in stereotypes but could barely manage to do his own job, never mind tread on the job of the English teacher. He invited the counselor to take over his class so he could see how fast he could put the students to sleep.

The principal put a stop to the argument between the two, taking the side of the guidance counselor, and warning Robbie to not discuss delicate issues without first consulting either him or the guidance counselor.

Robbie told me that he loved being a teacher, loved connecting with students and helping open their eyes to the vast landscape of literature, but that he was tired of working with “close-minded jerkass literary snobs.” The same kinds of people who praise Dickens today, but if they were around when Dickens was writing, they’d have dismissed his work as commercial tripe that pandered to the masses.

I’ve never heard a teacher talk about another teacher like that. I almost pissed myself laughing.

-- 1 Comment --
Kim said...
it's great that you have connected with such a great teacher. It's teachers like that that make high school survivable.