I spent 3 hours last night listening to this guy talk about literacy:
Henry Rollins is a punk rock icon. I wasn’t a big punk fan as a teenager, but even I knew Black Flag. He’s an author, a tv show host, an actor, and a spoken word phenom. Listening to him was amazing — he talked for 3 hours, didn’t take a break, didn’t take a drink, barely stopped to breathe. He talked about politics, culture, the Constitution, travel, drag queens…everything. This is a guy who can quote the Constitution from memory, who travels hundreds of days a year, and speaks passionately about curiosity and learning and changing the world. Can you imagine that guy giving the commencement address at your university? The folks at Sonoma College got quite a surprise in 2009. But it is a great speech and hearing him talk about the experience was very moving.
What did I bring home from the show as a souvenir — a t-shirt? A poster? Nope. I bought a book (are you surprised?). A Preferred Blur: Reflections, Inspections, and Travel in All Directions. It looks great, I’m just sorry I didn’t get a chance to hang around and get it signed. (Henry – next time you’re going to be in Kent, call me!)
So, why don’t more teachers use examples like this in their classes? When I think of how far someone like this could go to turn kids on to reading and writing, to make it cool and interesting, it makes me really wish that teachers didn’t stick with old, dead white guys for their inspiration.
So, who’s the coolest author you know? Who do you wish your high school English teacher had introduced you to back then?