I just finished reading the excerpt from Still Life with Turtle by David Carroll. How shocked I was to find myself wanting to read more!!
As I began reading the excerpt, I thought “This kid must be blazed.” Carroll describes the first turtle encounter with such intensity that it seems unnatural. After that, the kid was left wanting more and more, and I thought he was addicted as one gets addicted to drugs. “Is this a metaphor for addiction?” I thought.
As I kept reading, I was delighted to realize that the boy had simply discovered passion. He engulfs himself in the “turtle world.” This was a beautiful way of looking at the discovery of new things. I think it would inspire most people to want to learn and travel. The boy says “Turtles, spotted turtles most significantly, were a living text.” (27) This is an active way of looking at your world, and a new trend in English Studies. In a course at Syracuse, we were asked to pick any object and read it as a “text.” I never fully understood the exercise. After reading this except, I finally understand. By looking at living texts, we can immerse ourselves in learning about that subject and we can “read” that subject in its context. The boy’s understanding of turtles is so much richer than anything he would read in a single book. If we, as teachers, could mimic this experience with other topics, we could bring our students to a much higher lever of learning.
As teachers, we should all think of ourselves as the boy, and we should think of his girl friend as our students. Imagine taking your students out into the world and physically showing them why they should care about learning. I know it might not be possible to physically travel someplace with them. But I think if we are creative, we can find ways to mimic the experience.