Faculty Blog

Listen and Learn: A Calm Sea Never a Captain Makes

Sometimes I hate my boat. However, hating a needy pile of wood, sail, and line is less distressing than what it teaches me about myself. My trying to remove the stubborn barnacles from the bottom-sides after eight months in drydock is a harsh reminder that ten minutes of a simple power-washing on Labor Day would have negated the hours of cursing, scraping, and crawling on the back-stabbing scree of a New England boatyard that occupied my day yesterday. Years ago I blithely and absent-mindedly watched as a friend showed me how to make a wire splice. Tomorrow I am paying some old salt two …

Posted by in John Fitzsimmons on Wednesday January 14, 2015
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George Writes His Essay

Why am I the poor schmuck saddled with a teacher who insists on finding meaning and metaphor in everything we read? Like The Odyssey: I mean, the book is full of random everythings. Like just when Odysseus starts to figure something out (and I have a half a clue what is going on) he breaks off into some wild story with a hundred new characters. "Oh," says my teacher, "that is a literary technique used to build the scope and sweep of the poem. It is the hallmark of an epic literary work." If that is the case, then I have a crazy old uncle—a guy who never knows when to …
Posted by in John Fitzsimmons on Sunday October 5, 2014
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Rich Beyond Measure

A Note to my 8 and 9th Grade Students



I've never met a man who was truly awake. I wouldn't know how to look him in the eyes. 

~Henry David Thoreau 

 

Somebody once asked Thoreau if he would give a talk on the evils of alcohol and tobacco. He declined, stating that since he had never tried alcohol or tobacco, he wasn't able to speak about the effects of either tobacco or alcohol from personal experience—and personal experience is what generates our most powerful ideas and motivates our most profound actions. Retelling our experiences inspires readers to look …

Posted by in John Fitzsimmons on Friday August 1, 2014
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Remember the Time

I don’t always practice what I preach, especially when it comes to the simple, unaffected and ordinary “journal entry.” Much of my reticence towards the casual journal entry is the public nature of posting our journal writing as blogs that are more or less “open” to the public. It is hard for me as a teacher of writing to post an entry that I know is trivial, mundane—and perhaps of no interest to my readers—but that is precisely what I need to do if I am to model the full spectrum of the writing process. Keeping a journal is more than a search for …

Posted by in John Fitzsimmons on Friday January 17, 2014
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Nobody Told Me to Read “The Odyssey”

Nobody ever told me to read The Odyssey—and that was the greatest educational travesty of my life. I first read it after high school while working at Colonial Motors in West Concord. I didn't "get it" any more than the most confused among you, but what I did do is "feel it." I felt its primordial power and emotional bareness; I felt another world, another age, and another human journey come alive inside of me. It made me feel that I was a part of long and unbroken lineage of humanity searching for truth and purpose in a world—especially my world, a world not always blessed with …

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