professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Treasures of the past

Had a text today from my friend, Lois Buckman, who ws excited that, when she was going through some donations to the public library where she now works, there was a copy of SEVENTEENTH SUMMER by Maureen Daly. She told me her director did not know the significance of the donation. We texted back and forth for a few minutes recalling the course with Dick Abrahamsson where we learned about YA literature. we knew more than the basic when Dick's course was over. We knew the history of the field. We knew the genres and forms and format. We knew the leading figures not only as authors but also the researchers.

Dick made sure we all knew facts beyond the textbooks. We struggled in the course, taking copious notes, and taking quizzes that proved to us that Dick expected us to know everything. And so we did. We can talk about SEVENTEENTH SUMMER and about Norvell and Fader and the Stratemeyer Syndicate. We read more than 40 books, and the final exam was to write a chapter in a YA novel. Unfortunately, all that proved is that I have no talent in that area. However it did demonstrate the need to know tropes and trends.

At the time, we were all daunted by the demands of the class. Now, though we look back at that time and understand that Dick was preparing us for more than sharing YA with our students. He wanted us to know the field well enough we could teach it ourselves. That is just what happened eventually. Now I have the chance to teach this course each semester. My class does not mirror the one I took. It has morphed over the years. However, we do a history of literature course I get to teach once a year, and I can work in all the info about syndicates and research, etc.

What does not change, though, is the need to know as much about the field as I can. Not only to know the past, but to examine the trends of today and project about the future. So, thanks Dick, for all the good teaching and learning. Thanks for creating a course that made us work hard. It pays off every day.
Tags: future, learning, past, ya

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