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Thursday, September 24, 2015

So much better

Yesterday's discouragement has dissolved, momentarily at least. Between club hour (when I bailed on several events I really wanted to go to in order to mark assignments) and my office hour, I did get everything marked and back to the students. It was pretty dreadful, for the most part; I was wise to stay away from it yesterday, when the world looked bleak and miserable. But I've gotten much more quickly to the point where I comment minimally if at all, and pretty much I've turned over the responsibility for making improvements to responses to the students. I've told them about what they should do multiple times; either they're going to get it or they're not.

And the classes were great. Mr. Hostile wasn't: he does have that affect to a certain extent, but he was great in his group, great in the class discussion, happy that we're going to watch Blade Runner, psyched at the thought that I might squeeze another movie in there.... So, that's all good. And the discussion was lively and intelligent and could have kept going a lot longer if we hadn't run out of time. I always love it when I have to bring things to a halt and the students are disappointed that class is over.

That didn't quite happen with the M&D class, but it was still a good class. I forgot to remind them to make notes while watching "A Study in Pink," so they were a little dull at that point--and the end of A Study in Scarlet didn't exactly leave them with a lot to talk about, but I made some suggestions about a deeper thematic idea that might carry over into The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, which they're going to start for next week.

The SF students get to start Oryx and Crake, and I can't wait to find out what they think about it.

I do have to mention that there is one student in the SF class who is so completely clueless and lost that I hardly know how to talk to him. He can't understand the readings at all, and on Tuesday he said he wanted to come to my office to talk about it but not during my office hour, which isn't convenient for him. I said he should send me an e-mail from his student account so we could set up a time. Today he came to class about 40 minutes late, then came up to me to say he can't figure out how to use his student e-mail.

I should explain that the college sends vital information to students through their campus e-mail addresses. Every student has a campus e-mail address automatically, immediately upon registering. He's in sophomore level classes--and he has never used his student e-mail and can't figure out how. "Lost" is inadequate to cover how completely unprepared and out of it he is. How on earth did he get this far?

I told him how to get to his e-mail and suggested he go to one of the computer labs on campus for help getting it set up. But this is one of those situations when I wish it were at all ethical to pull him aside and say, "Listen: college isn't for you. You should figure out something that you want to do for a living that doesn't require a college education and go be brilliantly successful at that."

I won't even get into a discussion of the student in M&D who registered late, has been absent twice, and was 40 minutes late today. Or the student in M&D who decided that he'd be better off reading the graphic novel of A Study in Scarlet as a better option than simply looking up the summary online. (Well, yes, on a scale from bad to worse, that was the marginally better choice, but still.) I won't sigh and wring my hands over the students who are going AWOL in the lit electives: I'm glad to have fewer bodies in there, truly, but I do wish they'd officially withdraw.

Instead, I'll talk about how great it was to read the discussion board posts from the 101 students. They're not all doing it, of course, and some are doing a pretty dreadful job, but the ones who are doing it well are really doing it well: they're bouncing ideas off each other, bringing up things they forgot to mention in class (or didn't have time to, or that have occurred to them since). Those discussion board posts are a treat to read, and I have a blast joining in the conversation. I like the idea of doing more of this kind of thing: it's good writing practice for them (even though the writing is pretty dreadful in a few instances), and it does let them think a little more about the readings than they might otherwise have a chance to do.

And that, I think, is a good place to end the week. I already have my little bag of work packed to carry to Advisement on Monday (and please heaven I won't have to see any students but will just be able to work on my stuff), and as the dusk builds, I will toddle off to spend three days mixing relaxation, life maintenance, and girding my loins for the first full, normal week of the semester starting Monday. Wish us all luck.

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