This is the fourth and final collection of student work from Lincoln-Sudbury’s Meet Mr. Thoreau class. It’s all here: journal and nature writings, pencil projects, poems, leaf haikus, etc. Once again, the man whom Louisa May Alcott called, “the Genius of the woods,” has inspired students who live just five miles from his cabin site, though a century-and-a-half later. But as Walt Whitman, Thoreau’s great contemporary and fellow Transcendentalist, wrote, “It avails not, neither time or place—distance avails not.”
I began teaching (and learning) about Thoreau in the mid-1990s. Interacting with the mind of this famous neighbor released a super nova of creative energy in my students and me. Together, we built a cabin replica, rose early to watch the sun rise over Walden, tracked Thoreau through Concord, took walks in the woods behind the school, read his great essays (and read Walden in the Independent Studies groups that followed), shared our own writings in the dark around our classroom’s electric campfire, tried our hand (or mouth?) at animal calls, and had some good laughs.
My Thoreau experience at Lincoln-Sudbury added immeasurably to my life as teacher. I should add: it made me a better person. I am indebted to all of my Thoreau students over the years for making the Meet Mr. Thoreau course so memorable for me, and for doing work that demanded to be shared. I have to single out senior Erika Ryan, ’07, for her help and determination in seeing this book through to publication.
Spring has arrived. I lift my eyes from Thoreau’s Journal. It’s time to take a look around.