It was with dismay that I read Paul Muldoon’s reflection on his summer activity (President’s Page, Sept. 23). From his opening salvo directed at high school teachers — “If physics, or physical education, were taught at the pitch at which I fear poetry is taught in most high schools, there would be a public outcry” — to his closing death rattle — “If we at the tertiary level don’t take a more active, albeit indirect, role in secondary education, we soon won’t have any students fit to teach” — I thanked my stars that I had never helped Professor Muldoon fulfill his “duty” (his word) to the academic world.
Yes, I am a high school teacher, and yes, I do teach poetry, and yes, I am familiar with the work that follows on the college level (alumnae do share). One glorious memory, though, will suffice. Years ago, after listening to a stirring lecture by Princeton’s Victor Brombert, I introduced myself to the professor, identifying myself as a high school teacher. Before I could compliment him on his presentation, he insisted that the credit belonged to those of us in the trenches with the 14- to 18-year-olds, and that his work would not be possible without the work that preceded it. While Professor Brombert may have indulged in a bit of hyperbole, I greatly prefer his version to Professor Muldoon’s.