Was a little late

June 05, 2003


Was a little late out the door.

Stopped at the CC to sign papers for classes next fall, had forgotton to mail back their form and then misplaced it. It turns out they had another opening for me. I will be teaching US part 2 on Mondays and Fridays at 8:30 in the morning, US part 1 on Monday afternoon at one site and on Wednesday afternoon at another location. Tuesdays and Thursdays are clear.

I also decided to apply for a 1-year position at a place about 150 minutes away (132 miles). If I get it I will just make sure to have no Monday morning or Friday afternoon classes, get a cheap apartment there, and come home for the weekends. J sez she can live with that for a year, especially if I take the hound with me during the week. It is worth spending the time to apply, especially since I have to update my materials to apply for the coastal community college job.

Class went OK.
I spent an hour before class giving an oral exam to a student who choked on the midterm. She did ok on the identifications, not so well on explaining the essay - I just asked her the same questions she had studied but let her talk her way through the answers rather than having to put it in writing. She garbled half the essay, I need to decide between a C and a D for the whole thing. But, considering that her blue book would have been an F, we are not so bad. I spent some time after class talking about study tricks. She wants to do well, but work is crazy and she is a single mom. It is frustrating watching someone with a strong drive, little recent academic experience, and very little free time. I suggested that she try taping the lectures, and that she double up notes with someone.

For class, we spent the first 90 minutes watching the PBS video of A Midwife's Tale. It is a dramatization of the Laura Ulrich history that won the Bannister a few years ago. I keep forgetting just how sad it is - I had to pull out the hankie once or twice. It is also marvelously rich.

After a break we then talked about the 1790s. I made it through Hamilton's financial program, then tried to do the French Revolution in 10 minutes. Too much detail and I bogged down on the Constituent and Legislative Assemblies. Should have skipped ahead to Gironde and Jacobins.

After class talked for 40 minutes with another of the students. She wanted to go over her midterm and see why it was a C (fuzzy prose, and she left out half the essay, good ideas). Then we went over today's homework. It was a darn good question: "Who do you admire more, Hamilton or Jefferson?" and she had done a mess of research to write it. She found herself admiring Jefferson and wanting to know more - I ended up suggesting Kolchin on Slavery, Merrill Peterson's old 1-volume biography and the LOA edition of Jefferson's Writings. She is a very smart lady who has been out of school for many years.

We talked about precision in language. I had been correcting her language all the way through, and we had been laughing and joking about my giving her a hard time. I then gave her the mini-lecture about thoughts and speech. We think, at least for complicated things, in words . Our thought is only as precise and nuanced as our language. If you want to think well and think precisely, then you have to use words precisely and make sure that your words say no more and no less than exactly what you mean. This is something that lasts, if my students take away nothing but an interest in history, an awareness of change over time, and more precise habits of writing and speech, then I will have succeeded in teaching the survey. The stuff, the dates and names and stories, is actually secondary. Interest, change, and precision all last for years after formal education ends. She got quiet at that. I don't know if I was preaching and condescending, or if I hit a nerve. Perhaps both.

Then home, listening to more Lord of the Rings on tape. The Fellowship is heading home. The more I listen to this, the more I think that Tolkein is much better when read out loud. In print, I go too quickly and move on past the language when in fact the language, stiff and archaic and stilted at times, is the whole point of the books. The more I listen to this, the less I am looking forward to the new movie. I suspect that I will see it, but Peter Jackson's decision to garble the plot, mis-read Theoden, and totally destroy the personality and narrative of the triangle between Eowyn, Aragorn, and Arwen was just a bad decision. It left a bad taste in my mouth then, it makes me not want to see what other damage he will have done to the story.

Now to have a quick snack, not too large, and then to bed. I think a bowl of generic cheerios and a bit of Sports Consecrated will make a good calm-down.

Oh, and no problems with reflux after drinking coffee earlier today. J thinks it was stress-induced followed by the turmoil that lingers after anything that upsets a stomach. Perhaps.

ps, this was a good long blogging.

Posted by Red Ted at June 5, 2003 11:31 AM | TrackBack