Thursday, September 18, 2008

Back In The Saddle Again

"So in Macbeth, when [Shakespeare] wasn't trying to find names that sound alike, what did he want to express in words more beautiful than had ever yet been written?"

Mrs. Baker looked at me for a long moment. Then she went and sat back down at her desk. "That we are made for more than power," she said softly. "That we are made for more than our desires. That pride combined with stubbornness can be disaster.  And that compared with love, malice is a small and petty thing."

The above words, from The Wednesday Wars, by Gary Schmidt, are as powerful a commentary on the current age, on the last eight years of the Bush administration, on Wall Street and the current presidential campaign, as I have read in the last year and a half or so that I have been reading young adult literature and making connections to the contemporary world.  If you haven't read The Wednesday Wars, I highly recommend it--it's perfect for middle school history and language arts courses, or bedside reading by any parent with a child age 10-14.

The argument I have been making on this blog is that young adult literature--of which The Wednesday Wars is a terrific example--provides adults and teens and even tweens with useful perspective on the contemporary world.  It's not just about the foibles of teen romance, parental relationships, and school culture.  It's also about the world we live in today, its flaws and potential, the core principles and concerns we need to pay attention to if we are to move forward as a culture, a society.

In the coming months, I'm going to do my best to stay regular with this blog, writing at least once a week. Now that my research project is done, this blog is going to become a more open-ended site for writing about current events and the ways in which young adult literature can help all of us--adults and kids--to think better about contemporary politics and other aspects of human affairs.  In particular, I'll give special attention to the ways in which insights derived from young adult literature and the contemporary world might help educators to meet new challenges and create new opportunities for teaching and learning.  

So stay tuned for more about the current age.   Starting tomorrow.

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