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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

102: yes. 281: not so much

I suppose it isn't a big surprise that the Nature in Lit class didn't fly so well today. Many of the students were baffled by the reading (William Bradford in particular) and several were very late. They're also not dialed into the whole log/ideas/talk thing yet. I did a lot more talking than I might usually do, but until they've got something they can grab on to, this is going to be more than a bit of an uphill push.

After class, one of the senior observers asked me what the readings had to do with nature. Sigh. I'd talked--twice--about how they reveal something regarding how the early European settlers viewed nature as having value only insofar as it served a purpose for them: their views were anything but the rhapsodic enjoyment and appreciation we assume is "correct." She was questioning the value of the logs--but since she isn't doing them, I'm not sure why she wanted to know what they're for or how they work. Even just as a theoretical question, the students are struggling a bit now, and they're actually doing the logs (in theory at least). Purely as an abstraction, it's hard to convey what they do and how.

Ah well. I proceed in happy anticipation that the readings will rapidly become more "user friendly," if you will, and that the increasing accessibility of the readings will help encourage student participation.

The 102 seemed awfully lumpy and dull at first, but as soon as I got them working on the plagiarism thing in groups, they perked up considerably--and we ended up having a pretty good discussion. (And yes, I gave them the "College will change you/work through frustration" bits, albeit in significantly condensed version.) I've already got a problem student: meaning no disrespect at all, he will be referred to as the Guinea Pig, as he needs to be "suppressed" (actually repressed, but in Alice in Wonderland, it's "suppress," so there you have it). He was going off on wild speculations, trying to turn a relatively simple "coming of age" story into a murder mystery. It was great, actually, as he gave me the perfect opportunity to talk again about how theories have to make sense in considering the work as a whole. And the other students were amused, not annoyed, so all to the good.

I am disappointed all the way around with the paucity of logs I've received so far. I did give all my classes the dread warning: this class was their one "freebie," but after this, show up unprepared and you'll have to leave... I'm anticipating further problems with the log business, but I'll handle whatever comes up whenever it comes up.

I'm pretty tired and cranky, but I also want to give a tango class a try, so I'm going to fly out of here. maybe I'll have more/better to report tomorrow.

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