Barbara Johnson

Teaching literature is teaching how to read. How to notice things in a text that a speed-reading culture is trained to disregard, overcome, edit out, or explain away; how to read what the language is doing, not guess what the author was thinking; how to take evidence from a page, not seek a reality to substitute for it.

Are our ways of teaching students to ask some questions always correlative with our ways of teaching them not to ask – indeed, to be unconscious of – others? Does the educational system exist in order to promulgate knowledge, or is its main function rather to universalize a society’s tacit agreement about what it has decided it does not and cannot know?

Time mellows people as it mellows wine, as long as the grapes are good. You may set out to be a businesswoman or businessman but in the course of time end up caring for a dying parent, orphaned niece, or disabled brother. You may encounter illness yourself and end up being a writer, touching the heartstrings, not the purse strings of other people. That’s why it’s best to always be true to yourself and God and to be flexible within His will. He will use you.