As you know, I had the priviledge of having Kathi Appelt as my advisor last semester at Vermont College. Last year, at the summer residency, Kathi gave a fabulous lecture that left me saying, “Everyone should hear that lecture. Every single person in the world. Especially if they’re a writer and/or educator.”
Well folks, I’ve got great news. Kathi’s lecture, Blurring the Lines, is available online on the Hunger Mountain website. Please-please-please click here to read it (it’s long, but worth every second of your time). Hunger Mountain is the journal of the Vermont College Fine Arts program. I was so happy to see Kathi’s lecture in print, as I could savor it slowly (yes, like fine wine or Belgian chocolate).
In Kathi’s poignant writing style, she gives us so many things to consider–as writers, parents, teachers, humans. With compassion and the knowledge of the scholar she is, she discusses the reactions to her award-winning novel The Underneath, the importance of reading, embracing your past, the overuse of standardized tests in today’s schools, becoming more humanitarian, censorship, Ferdinand the Bull and the importance of blurring the lines that we often put up to distinguish “us” from “them.” I laughed, cheered, and even gasped at times. You will be enlightened, comforted, and want to become a “book whisperer.”
Here is one of my favorite quotes:
I’m worried that our children, expert test takers by the time they reach fifteen where every answer is true or false, will not have Ferdinand or the little old woman eating mush or beautiful Ginger [Black Beauty] because tests have taken over and the language of their childhood will always be age appropriate and standardized. It will be too conscious and not conscious enough. And someone whom we could drink a beer with will stand in front of the world and say, “bring it on,” without the ability to imagine the ramifications or the feelings of others, someone who forgot Ferdinand.
This is a beautifully written lecture/essay. Pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back and enjoy…