Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chapter 11 & 12: The Water Is Wide

“…I tried to teach them to embrace life openly, to reflect upon its mysteries, rejoice in its surprises, and to reject its cruelties. Like other teachers I failed. Teaching is a record of failures. But the glory of teaching is in the attempt”. 
 What Pat Conroy did that no other teacher on the island ever cared to do was attempt to teach the children. He wanted to provide them with the same opportunities that other children had. These last two chapters were the most interesting to me because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with Conroy. I didn’t know if he was going to get fired or if he was going to get to stay on the island. While on the island Conroy done so much for the kids at the Yamacraw School and nobody seemed to care what an impact he had been. He was able to convince some of the students to go to a camp that they have never been too and if it had not been for him probably would never go. He done so much for this group of students yet those over him didn’t want him to teach anymore on the island. They took away the one person that believed in the students and wanted better for them all because he didn’t do what they wanted him to do. I think that they were afraid that the children would actually believe that they could be something greater than the island offered them and they didn’t want that happening simply because they were colored. Conroy sacrificed a lot of things to be able to teach on the island and Bennington and Piedmont just used that against him when they fired him. They knew that they wouldn’t find another teacher that would undergo the conditions that he endured to teach the children on the island. Rather than firing him they should have been offering him a raise to keep him on the island so that he could continue changing the lives of these children.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chapter 9 & 10: The Water Is Wide

“The one great knave that I hunted was boredom, and if I caught him lurking anywhere in the room, in the corners, by blackboards, behind the covers of books, or in glazed, anesthetized eyes, we went to something else quickly, shifted in mainstream, danced, sang, fought, or milked rats”.
 Conroy always wanted the students engaged in something. Unlike Mrs. Brown who insisted on “teaching the books”, he wanted the children on the island to remember the things that he taught them. He would have different people come in the classroom so that the students would know something about the outside world. One of the speakers was Conroy’s sister Carol that told about her childhood but the thing that the students enjoyed the most was when acted like a witch. The students thought that she was really a witch and asked all sorts of questions. The students learned a lot from the visitors that came in during the year. They were introduced to soccer and to a musician that had a hit song. I feel that this was the best thing that Conroy could do for the students because they hadn’t been learning anything before he became their teacher. Throwing out information and expecting them to grasp concept after concept isn’t going to work for them. Also in the reading the girls from the class stayed at Conroy’s house for Valentine’s Day. Conroy wanted to prepare these students for when they would leave the island and become part of life outside the island. The students were able to take a trip to the nation’s capital where they visited the monuments and museums that they had never seen before. This trip was a chance for them to experience what life was off the island. The trip was a success and all the students were able to go and live this experience.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Water Is Wide: Chapter 7 & 8

“She isn’t talking to me, but she is talking about you and it hurts me to see you get your feelings hurt. You may not believe me yet. You may not trust me yet. But you can **** well believe that it pisses me off to hear Mrs. Brown talk to you like that”.
      Mrs. Brown speaks to the children on the Yamacraw Island like she owns them so it gives her the right to do so. She speaks to them as if they are beneath her when she is black herself. Instead of making them feel bad and beating them for everything wrong thing they do she should want them to have a better life. Conroy can’t stand the way that she speaks to these children because they have heard it for so long that they are starting to believe the things she says. She just busts into the classroom and goes off on the students because they haven’t brushed their teeth. The students are scared of her and refuse to talk to her. I think that if she changed the way that she approached situations she would get positive responses from the students. Conroy talks to them as if that actually matter and what they have to say means something to him. Also in the reading Conroy was faced with some obstacles. He decided to commute back and forth to the island and this caused some problems with the administrative staff. They didn’t feel it was their place to pay for the gas and upkeep of the boat but in the end they compromised with Conroy. They should have been more understanding of this decision because he has taken a position that no one wanted to make sure that these students receive an education. He is the only one that obviously cares about them and the least they could do was meet this simple request.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chapter 5 & 6: The Water Is Wide

"After the Halloween trip, one began to form and crystallize without my knowledge, and when I finally acknowledged its presence, it was already a part of me: simply, that life was good, but it was hard; we would prepare to meet it head-on, but we would enjoy the preparation".
 I loved this quote from the book because even though Conroy realized that his new life on the Yamacraw Island was challenging he decided that he would make the best of it cause that’s all he could do. Rather than drilling the “required information” into the heads of the children on the island Conroy wanted them to enjoy school so he made it fun. This approach I believe was better for the students because they caught onto the concepts quicker. He introduced them to movies and gave them opportunities that they hadn’t been given before. He introduced them to The Salem Witch Trials which broke into a conversation about witches and they were able to relate it to The Wizard of Oz. Conroy also found a tape recorder and the students learned how it worked. Many of the students opened up and sang because they were mesmerized by this piece of equipment that played their voice back to them. The part of the reading that I liked the most from Chapter 5 and 6 was when Conroy took the children to Port Royal to experience Halloween because they knew nothing about this holiday. Although when he began planning this trip it looked like it wasn’t going to happen but in the end it was a success. He gave these students something that he could have never taught them in the classroom. For the first time they were off the island and surrounded by people, white people at that, who welcomed them as if they were royalty. Many people may not have understood his methods but I believe that Conroy has changed the lives of these children and they will never forget that.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chapter 4: The Water Is Wide

“I love people and collect friends like some people collect coins or exotic pipes. So far, the people of the island had “yassuhed” me to death. I was the white principal, a figure of authority, which in itself could not be trusted”.
      In Chapter 4 Conroy began exploring the island and what it had to offer him. He found himself going to the beach and walking in the forest to get away from the school house where he spent most of his time. Along with exploring the island Conroy also met some of the locals on the island and they became his associates and some even his friends. Some of the people he met he really didn’t care that much for but he knew he had to keep a civil relationship with them because they were vital to his well-being on the island. Two people that he met, Zeke and Ida became his friends rather quickly and he found himself amongst their company from time to time. Most of the people on the island wondered why he had come there to educate the black students because he was white but at the same time they understood that somebody needed to do it. Also in this chapter Conroy falls in love and gets married to Barbara Jones. The distance from his wife and family made it even tougher on him to remain on the island. He didn’t want to leave the children behind in Yamacraw but at the same time he didn’t want his wife living on the island under such harsh conditions. He was unable to focus on teaching the students because he wanted to be with his family. His marriage to Barbara made Conroy think about why he was in Yamacraw to begin with because it seemed like what he was doing at the school wasn’t working.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chapter 3: The Water Is Wide

“I then told them that they had to look upon themselves in a different light, that they had to be convinced of their basic worth, and that they could learn just as fast as anyone else”.

The students that sat in front of Conroy were uneducated. They couldn’t write their names, recited the alphabet, compute simple math problems, and some could barely talk so that you could understand them. They knew nothing about the outside world or that it even existed because no one took the time to teach them these things. It’s like they were sitting in a learning facility with no one to facilitate their learning. This wasn’t acceptable to Conroy. He was determined to teach these kids something because they had a right to learn just as much as the next kid. The way that Conroy began teaching these students may have been a bit odd because Mrs. Brown didn’t approve of his tactics and they didn’t seem to correlate with what little bit of information they did know. He began introducing the students to Fifties music on his record player. Of course be he began they didn’t know any of it and when he would tell them the artist they would pronounce it wrong. But instead of correcting them he would say it the same way they did so they would know what he was talking about. They learned all the songs on the record and were able to call out the title and the artist. They may not have been learning about math and reading but learning was definitely going on in this classroom. He also made them listen to the news every morning and wherever the news came from he would go to the map and show them where it was located because these students had no idea how to read a map. Conroy was able to do something for these students that it seemed no one else would do…he taught them something!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chapter 1: The Water is Wide

“I don’t know if God had anything to do with it, Doctor. I applied for the Peace Corps and haven’t heard. Yamacraw seemed like a viable alternative”

Pat Conroy seems like a man that wants to make a difference in the lives of others. From this statement from the first chapter he was willing to go to the Peace Corps in hopes of putting the needs of others above his own. Rather than helping people in other countries coming to Yamacraw Island was a way to help Americans. He could do more for these children that basically lived inside the world he lived but had no part in it than he could ever do in the Peace Corps. From reading the first chapter I feel that Pat will face some challenges and people will try to come up against him but he will overcome despite it all. Pat will be stepping into a place that isn’t suitable for living and is surrounded by colored people not like him at all. This will be possibly the biggest challenge besides that of the uneducated children that Pat will have to face. He being a white male coming into a place that is poor and filled with people of the inferior race will make it difficult for him to reach these people. Just from the chapter reading I think that Pat might wish he had went to the Peace Corps rather than go to Yamacraw Island but the decision has already been made and he will make the best out of it. Because of his will to help people I think that Pat will be my favorite character in the book because he has put himself in a situation unimaginable to him to change the lives of the people living on this island.