I have been teaching for thirty years. It is a strange thing to assert–thirty years. In that time I have discovered one reality of all great things.
What works takes work!
People are always looking for the easy way to do things, myself included. I have decided that is the wrong goal. I will no longer pursue the easy way to do things. I am going to chase the efficient way to do things. I don’t mean that I will expect anything to be easier, but I do think things can be better, can be improved, and that’s now my goal.
I asked my students to write a “working thesis” for each of the capstone essays that they are writing in my class. Several of them, delights that they are, gave me something. I now give them something back. I list here the theses (slightly revised) of each of my students who submitted one for review. I believe they have promise, and I look forward to reading the essays that grow from them. Here they are:
The people who rise up and become leaders for the French Revolution see their own actions a completely justified.
In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens shows that at one point or another everyone must sacrifice what he or she loves.
In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens explores how economies, particularly of France and Britain, are affected by the American Revolution and French Revolution.
Against the backdrop of Revolution, Dickens explores the dynamic nature of familial relationships, and shows how all power struggles are linked to specific families.
Dickens uses Jerry Cruncher, a humorous character, to lampoon the malicious deeds and morbid practices common in British Victorian culture.
Dickens exposes the traps inherent in monarchy and absolute power and how people suffer under this absolute power.
You will notice that all of these call for some research and some reading. I like that. I also like that they all refer to Dickens. See…that’s the essential part of this paper, that it comes from and reflects on a major work of an important author, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. The next step will be to visit with these students about their research and their reading, to give them suggestions about what might work best for them. To try my best to make the hard work a pleasure, an efficient pleasure.
Writing well involves work. I do not mind sweating if I get great products. I’m hoping my students are ready to embrace the one truth of all worthwhile endeavors:
What works takes work.