Aaron M. Moe

"for the tree that stands / in the earth for the first time"

Teaching

My mantra, in Renee Moore’s words:

the Hebrew word for teach has among its meanings
to aim or shoot like an arrow

                          to point like a finger

           to flow like water

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Scansion from the Latin scansio meaning to climb. The granite batholith and the poem share a home.

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To scan a poem—to enter into and trace the pulsations of sound—is to climb it. This is the way.

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Look!——the Aphorism pointed.

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That moment when Trickster, Kairos, or Proteus becomes a force within a student’s consciousness.

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Without energy, form is vapid. Students must discover not just thoughts, but energy.

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Such energy ought not be reduced to emotive and/or intellectual origins as language is an outgrowth of cosmological sound.

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It’s not what the teacher knows as much as what the student discovers.

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Not just stories shape culture; culture shapes stories. But also under the weight of trauma, oppression, & the Anthropocene.

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We must find the stories that point toward authentic healing.

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At times, for a breakthrough to occur, the teacher must refrain from professing.

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Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me, said the Aphorism.

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Point. Get out of the way. Support. Point. Get out of the way. Support. Point. . . .

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A teacher who flows like water brings energy to the classroom. Students become tributaries.

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Good writers go on long walks, jogs, hikes, swims, strolls—and if in a wheelchair, rolls . . . . Thoreau calls it a genius for sauntering. Doing so allows unconscious networks of thought to emerge in consciousness.

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Write within (yet push against) the expectations of genre.

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Each word, sentence, paragraph should build toward the final paragraphs of the essay, where something magical can happen.

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Awaken your readers. Find what is dormant, and awaken it.

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To make your readers hungry, feed them at well-timed moments. Otherwise, they won’t trust you.

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Essays are fractal. Self-similar patterns exist throughout the levels of sentence, paragraph, section, and essay.

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After all, text comes from the Latin textus meaning a weaving. Every point of entry opens space for a new thread. Good essays weave insights, sources, multiple modalities, close-readings, and breakthroughs into a rich tapestry. Make a frame for the weaving, then weave. Sometimes, a frame may become a thread, and a thread, a frame.

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The tapestry’s color emerges in all of its brilliance in the final paragraphs of the essay.

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The tapestry can emerge on paper or on a screen.

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We have barely discovered how the digital revolution has impacted our reading and writing practices. Write with an eye on what could happen in online spaces.

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An essay sustains a constant weaving. It is a verb and emanates a verb-ful energy. Weave in such a way as to make your reader hungry.

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Make decisions based on timing—the timing of insights, quotes, modalities, breakthroughs—so that your readers become hungry.

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The thesis *sentence*—Ha! The question is not, “Where is the thesis?” but rather, “Where is it not?”

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Teacher: Alphabetism is often not even understood as a blank face—let alone as a puppet with a blank face.

Student: What would it look like if alphabetic language had a face?

Teacher: Protean magic.

Student: Where can this be witnessed?

Teacher: Where is it not? Language is always that urge, that procreant urge even if straightjacketed and condemned to the prison cell of the standard conventions of any genre.

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I saw students, for the first time, follow Proteus into uncharted realms of their consciousnesses.

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Teacher: Along with Kairos and Proteus, something else lurks in the laws of the cosmos: the tendency of inanimate and animate life toward play.

Student: But Kairos and Proteus always already are in the midst of play.

Teacher: And so we feel the rumblings of an even greater god in our consciousness.

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Teacher: A zygote exponentially explodes into the forms of vertebrae, lungs, liver, tongue, teeth, heart, hippocampus, whorly ears, dilatable eyes.

Student: So, the body is Protean?

Teacher: And, according to Whitman, the supreme poem.

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We stifle the love of language when we forbid others to play with Proteus.

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