Monday, May 19, 2008

An Interruption in the Posts about Changing the Face of Higher Education As We Know It

Ok, so I'm solidly into both of the courses that I'm teaching this summer, and I do think that they are going well. That said, I'm weirdly happier with the students in Course B than I am with the students in Course A.

So what's the deal with Course A? Well, part of the issue is that 4 students have never attended. I fear that at least one of them (if not all?) believe that they can show up next week sometime and that it will be cool. This is so not the case. Given the attendance policy, those 4 students already can only attain (at best) a C for participation. Today I assigned groups for the first major project in the course, and those students weren't assigned to groups. It occurs to me now that if any show up, I'll force them to be either in a group with each other or to do the projects independently. There's no way I'm saddling the current groups with them. I don't know. I suppose I'll email the non-attenders and basically say, What the fuck, over?

But Course A is also weird because it's one of my faves in the regular semester, but the mix of students in this version is just... I don't know. It's a vibe thing. I think they're fine and all, but I'm thinking that this course is not one I'll offer again in the summertime, should I teach in the summertime again. I think it suffers from the contracted schedule. I think this may be a course where a full 16 weeks is really necessary just for processing. Hmmm.

Now, Course B is awesome! I have to say, it's probably so awesome because historically this has been my absolute favorite course that I teach (and it's a gen-ed, so the fact that this is true just makes no sense given the way that people characterize what professors most like teaching). But seriously. I love this class. It's the bomb. It's excellent. And they all came in suspicious and not interested, and somehow, it's like this vibrant, awesome class. Now, part of that has to do with them (generally all pretty cool personalities), part of it has to do with me (my total love of the class), but I'd say most of it has to do with the readings in this course. This course could very easily be described as the following: "Hey, do you want to read some cool shit? Because this course has cool fucking readings. There's no discernible time period or agenda or anything, other than that everything rocks!" I know. You don't believe me. But yes, this is the course that I have, over the course of the past 5 years, designed. It's the course with the Coolest Material Ever. That said, we'll see how they feel about tomorrow's novel. I think it's cool, but I'm not certain that they will, as it's a new addition to the course. But dude! I can convince them! Because this is the Coolest Books Class!

In other news, there is a potential postponement of the Grand Vagina Power Weekend 2008 with A., for her One True Love's dad died. Now, her One True Love (who I think may be the best boyfriend ever to a girl) totally loves that we do VPW, and he is insistent that A. and I should not change our plans. That said, dude, I feel that this is totally a legitimate reason to postpone, if necessary. I'll keep you posted, as I know more (for clearly, A. and I will be blogging during our Weekend of Vagina Power.)

Hmmm... What else? Ok, so I've still not sent off that journal article, but I did good work on it today, and I will get it off before Thursday. In other news, I'm making one last pass through the book manuscript (as the whole Permissions Drama that I faced has given me a last go-round that I'd not anticipated). This is actually really awesome. Why?

1. I've caught some things that in my haste in November I overlooked.
2. I got to revise my acknowledgments (which, actually, I had to do because of the Permissions Drama) and so a person whom I'd ignored in the original version is getting his rightful place. I'm sure he doesn't care one way or the other, as it's entirely doubtful he'll ever read the damned thing, but it makes me happy to acknowledge him.
3. You know what? I really like my book. I mean, I think it's actually sort of enjoyable to read. There's not tons of jargon, and I say interesting and provocative things that nobody else has said. It's not dry. Now, it occurs to me that if I were publishing someplace better that it would be dryer (and thus more scholarly, and thus more well-regarded when it comes out), but as I am reading over it... well, I feel like I keep finding passages that are just so awesomely quotable! And I love nothing if not a strong quote. And while I've been wringing my hands about the "placement" of my book, and whether I made the wrong decision in taking this contract, what I really feel is that I did the right thing. You know why? It's the book that I wanted to write. And I think that it's a book that really contributes something and that people will sort of like to read. Or they'll hate what I say, but still think I say it well. I'm glad that's how I feel about it. And sure, I've got delusions of grandeur that it will be this Groundbreaking Piece of Scholarship, but even if it's not? I still love it. I really do.

In other news, I've not got much. I've got Friends in Love, I've got Friends in Foolish Dramatic Non-Relationships, I've got Friends Selling Houses, I've got Friends Buying Houses. I'm ... well, I'm chill. Plans for Lebanon inch forward, although depending on the "climate" (political, etc.), the trip may not be a go. Not because of my safety, as my cousin noted to my mom, but rather because, "Well, it might not be good for Uncle to go, depending." See, Stepdad was a revolutionary in his day (for the side that won, but nevertheless, it's an issue). We'll have to see. But as of the latest reports, it does seem that I'll be in Lebanon from some point between July 15 and August 15. What's most hilarious is that half of the Hometown Population of Lebanese People is also planning to go during that time, so basically I'll be traveling thousands of miles to sit around with my cousins and aunts and uncles and friends of the family. This is both good - people who speak English! Hurrah! - and totally retarded. Stepdad is most excited about taking me to historic sites, as well as to tell me all about the history of the family. See, he still hasn't accepted my chosen career or job. I think he finally realizes I won't be going to law school and later running for public office (although I suppose there's still hope for the latter), but he still has dreams of A. me being a professor at the American University in Beirut and/or B. me writing a best-selling book about Lebanon and the family. Oh, and he may be trying to marry me off. That is still unclear, although Stepdad is a busybody and loves to match-make. In other words, if this trip does indeed come to pass, I shall return with many boring as well as interesting tales :)

No word on the New Kitty, although I should have news by this week's end or at the latest by the end of next week. I'm still considering names, as well as pseudonyms. Obviously none of this will be decided until New Kitty is firmly ensconced in the Home of Crazy.

So yes, that's the mundane report of what all is happening on this end. Never fear, I'll be sure to return to the series in which I pontificate on Education and Requirements, etc. I know you're all just dying for that :)

1 comment:

Doctor Pion said...

Yeah, the heck with Chicago's "Great Books", I'll take "Cool Books" any time!

You have me smiling (without even a hint of what you might have selected) because my HS senior comp class was built around (then) Cool Books. [e.g. Siddhartha, Rabbit Run, and "been down so long it looks like up to me" by Richard Farina] Not only did one notorious non-reader get involved in literature for the first time (sex, drugs, and existentialism can do that), but this class was still a topic of discussion at our 25th reunion. Maybe the same will be true for someone in your class this summer.

On your Course A, the course I am teaching this summer suffers because of less time to process lots of new concepts, but benefits from less time to forget what has been learned. It has more intensity and continuity in the summer. But, as you say, the mix of students is always the key unknown variable.