Friday, February 27, 2015

Monuments Men and composition students...

As the quarter comes to an end, the grades are recorded and we take a much needed week's break to regroup and get ready to finish the year.

But taking a break never means taking a break from learning or feeling compassionate or sitting idly by watching the world go to hell.

My freshman composition class is required to read Monuments Men. Actually this was my choice for the second semester. We all read the book for the first semester, and we were allowed to choose if we wanted to continue. I did.

I did for a couple of reasons. I like having the students immerse themselves in a book; they often do not do that. I also want to help them reach down inside their own core and find their compassion. We spend a lot of time discussing that.

We discuss what they love or what they feel in this world is worthy of their lives. We talk in-depth about the Monuments Men and their sacrifices for art and for preserving history. It isn't enough to just read words, I stress in my class, but we must understand what they mean. We must put ourselves into the words, the story, the book.

There are times in my class that I cannot contain my weeping. I know they look at me strangely and become very quiet, but how can we not weep for the greatness of the Monuments Men? How can we not want to take Harry Ettlinger's hand and shake it feeling the strength he still possesses in his heart and soul.

The Monuments Men do not exist as they did during WWII, yet the destruction of he world's greatest treasures continue. I was appalled to see the above video. I was appalled to read of the burning of the manuscripts in Mosel. 

I wish in my blog I had an idea, something concrete to tell you, or some kernel of knowledge that would set the world right. 

I do not.

Maybe sometimes the only thing we can do is to know and feel the compassion, especially towards the younger generation. If they do not see compassion from us, then where will they see it?

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