Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Carpe Diem

Yesterday, I asked my Creative Writing class what carpe diem meant. I received a variety of definitions, all accurate: "seize the day," "live life to the fullest," "time is short."

Then, I showed a clip from Dead Poets' Society (here's the link). Robin Williams at his best. The profession of teaching at its very best. The love of poetry at its best.

I was surprised how many of my 20-year-old students had seen the movie. They LOVED it and giggled along at all the right places.

Next, I had the students write a poem using carpe diem as the theme. Some of the students read them aloud, and the poems were beautiful. They were aching and raw and regretful and hopeful. Even at 20, students seem to have a sense that time is short. That they don't have as much time as they think they do.

I love to see young people take life seriously, take writing seriously. And to realize that none of us has all the time in the world. A powerful truth that does, hopefully, urge us to seize the day!

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may..."


  1. I saw DPS in the theater at about that age, and it really confirmed for me my major in English. And the importance of teaching, which I had started doing while I was in high school.

  2. Same here, Andrew!! I vividly recall seeing DPS in the Student Center as a freshman, and falling in love with the idea of teaching. I was already an English major, I think, but unsure about teaching until then.

    Of course, I didn't quite realize back then how incredibly romanticized teaching was in that movie, lol. Sure, the profession still has its magical moments, no doubt. But Robin Williams didn't seem to deal much with the drudgery of grading 1,200 papers per semester or compete with texting and i-Pods in the classroom. :-)

    Seriously, though - I did love how that movie gave teaching its rightful place - such a noble and worthy profession. I've never lost sight of that, thankfully...