I think I have finally come to an understanding of my students that somewhat fits (appropriately enough) with our reading this semester: Alice in Wonderland. Like Alice, they resist the chaos and madness I try to impose upon them. Like Wonderland, I keep throwing them off balance. They feel like the rules they have learned are not working the way they ought to do, but they persist in looking for the “right” answers. While I continue to insist that the texts are multivalent, slippery and full of problems, and that answers are only the beginning of new questions.
The students in the Early Women and Writing class (AKA the class that started out disastrous and has steadily improved) had a wonderful set of responses to writing their own “pilgrimages” based on format of the perambulations of Margery Kempe. They were moving, thoughtful and creative. In fact, I’ve expanded the topic to be one of their choices for a more formal paper.
They may not be rejoicing in insects yet, but maybe they have begun to look more carefully at their assumptions and dig a little bit deeper. Or perhaps, like the Mad Hatter, I’m just a little loopy.