Blank Slate

I am noticing something in my Master’s program. It is odd, but as we trudge through all of this text and theory, I am reminded often of things I learned in high school. I had 3 years of Honors English with Mr. Rich Langille. He was a looming unshaven character that towered over us and called us his “bearsie wearsies”. Some thought he was pure evil and lived for our torture, others saw the value in what he was teaching us. I knew that I liked his class. I knew that he was really very intelligent and in his own right he was pushing us to be better than we ever were before. That in itself was a noble effort.

But it is only today, as I sit in my graduate classes that I see what he really gave us. His English classes were not all reading and discussing tons of classical literary works, though we did do plenty of that. Half of class time was devoted to what he called, “Cultural Literacy”, in which he named several (25 per quarter) famous artists, philosophers, writers, theorists, composers, scientists and told us about their significance in history. Included in these lectures (and research we had to conduct ourselves) were theories and concepts that, I am now aware, were very advanced for high school students.

Just today, I had a flashback to 9th grade where I was learning about “tabula rasa” or the blank slate theory… just as it had been described to me then, I was reading about it now, dare I say, 13 years later.

Little things like that never cease to amaze me. And if I could only find Langille now, I would love to tell him about this and how he helped me be exactly what I always wanted to be…one step ahead.

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