Sunday, 7 September 2008

Adventures in book borrowing

The crossing guard outside the Catholic school en route to younger daughter's school tells me we're being grazed by the edge of what's left of Hurricane Gustav, so Friday night, the sky blackened and the trees tossed fitfully, and Saturday brought steady rain.

Elder daughter, who spent the earlier part of this first week back at school declaring that her course on World Religions was a terrible mistake, has now revised her opinion and is directing her vitriol at this year's drama teacher. I'm beginning to understand why. On Friday, this teacher announced that she was dividing the class into groups and assigning a play to each. Elder daughter's group got George Bernard Shaw's Candida, and was airily told to bring a copy of the play to class on Monday. "Oh, there's plenty of copies at the public library," said ill-advised drama teacher. I take it she hasn't checked. There are not many copies within the system, some are out, and those that are in are at far-flung branches. A hold will deliver the play to one's local library -- after Monday.

I placed a cautionary hold, then elder daughter and I shouldered our brollies and hiked the kilometre up the hill to see if we couldn't scare up a copy that way. If we'd been in Victoria, Demeter would have lent us her copy, but if we were in Victoria, we wouldn't be dealing with this ill-advised teacher. Candida? For sixteen-year-olds? This isn't exactly one of Shaw's most accessible plays. She assigned another group Strindberg's Miss Julie, for cripe's sake. Never mind the fact that this is a Drama class and not a literature class; is alienation her goal?

Anyway, no dice at the library. I suggested we try Books on Beechwood, our charming local bookstore (long may it reign). So back down the hill, past our house, to the main drag. We skulked around a bit, then approached the charming proprietor. She shook her head, considered us for a moment, then said: "I could lend you a copy..." Well, it turns out that her house is always getting mail meant for our house, and vice versa. Every month or so, I take a small detour from the trek to retrieve younger daughter from school, and deliver wayward catalogues and envelopes to the townhouse that shares our house number on swish Rideau Terrace. She phoned up her husband, interrupting his championing of Federer in the US Open, and told him where her Shaw anthology was. We thanked her profusely, promised faithfully to take excellent care of the book (after all, she knows where we live!), and started the climb up the hill again.

"Now, there's a Victoria moment in Ottawa," remarked elder daughter.

I don't know what to do about ill-advised teacher. Sometimes you just have to suck it up. But, do, if you love books, go and support your local independent bookstore when you can. And if you live in Hades, buy a book from Books on Beechwood. Evidently, it's a classy establishment!


punk in writing said...

Ah, overambitios, clueless teachers. This brings back memories.

However, my Drama teacher started off by taking us to the local theater to see a play and have a q and a with the director and actors. Now that's how you get students interested in your subject!

Persephone said...

To be fair, this teacher also takes students to plays and q-&-a's. However, so do the other drama teachers at this school. This one seems to have mixed up Drama with English Lit. My daughter took Drama with a dream-drama-teacher last year, and is toughing out this course, so she can have dream-drama-teacher next year...
Thanks for stopping by!