Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I went away for a few days, stayed in Samsonville for the long weekend and got back last night. Today is my first face-to-face class for summer session. It's a blended class made up of some on campus sessions, some web conferences, and online modules. It's graduate, and I expect enrollment of 11 students.

Otherwise today is not a very good day for me. Another contrast from my last post (a week ago). Enough said.

I read a very long entry of Mark Twain's concerning Bret Harte. He's on a tear, trashing those he did not like. Maybe I will post some of it when I have a chance.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Excellent post. I'm not sure it's just college students, though. Plenty of extremists are intolerant of the POV of others. The embrace Marcuse-type beliefs (although I doubt they have heard of him.) It's a reason I believe I teach one of the most important courses in the university, and feel privileged to do so, despite what some of said extremists probably think of the class.
 It's a beautiful day, and I am in a really good mood! Amazing what being done with the grading marathon does for my attitude. Here's some goodness courtesy of the yard:

 The lilacs are blooming
I hope this is "a good year for tomatoes."

And here's the delightfully vicious entry from Mark Twain  about Senator Clark that I mentioned yesterday:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

It's obvious from the silence since my last post that I have done nothing except work on spring grades since the last day of classes. I did take off both Sundays, and at night I did some reading. I did not burn the midnight oil. But I just finished, and now I have to let them simmer for a while -- meaning put the spreadsheets aside before entering them into the system.

While reading Mark Twain's autobiography, I came across this remarkable entry a few days ago. (And, finally -- a blistering one about Senator Clark that I will also post eventually.) What would he think about all the entitlements today?

Friday, May 09, 2014

 Last day of classes yesterday, taken from my new office.
I also decided to take a better picture of my inherited jade plant.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The university president is meeting with my department on Wednesday, and we've been told to come prepared with questions and comments. If I have the opportunity, I plan to ask whether there is any chance of going back to the pre-kegs-n-eggs fiasco spring schedule. The current one is terrible -- a mid-March St. Patrick's Day break rather than February and April. It's at odds with school schedules in February, and Passover and Easter mean that many students miss class in April anyway, and the absence has to be overlooked since it's for religious reasons.

I've been thinking about comments as well, and while it is unlikely I'll have the opportunity to say much, it's useful to reflect on things that could be shared. I am one of the few (if not the only) faculty member to deal with undergraduates, and their issues are different than graduate level.

Technology has influenced them greatly. I'm no Luddite, in fact, I am a champion of technology, but sometimes it gets in the way. They text on handhelds constantly, they have a reduced attention span, they don't read. Another thing that has a negative impact is that many work nearly full-time. They will miss class to work, and sacrifice studying, reading, and being prepared for class.

The limited attention span, lack of reading, various distractors, and general exhaustion seem to be resulting in students who don't follow assignment guidelines -- they think instructions are mere recommendations, not requirements, or they don't understand them, or they don't bother to read them at all -- or maybe they just aren't paying attention.

Naturally, this doesn't describe all students, and maybe doesn't even describe the majority. Unfortunately, the more difficult students and classes tend to overshadow the shining stars. The lack of engagement of some -- no matter how much effort I put in -- can be draining by this point in the semester.
More essays! But I have time, and there aren't too many, so it isn't so bad.

Office is coming together. I brought in carpet cleaner and managed to get a really bad stain out. I also cleaned my computer chair. I couldn't resist, took another picture of my Gunlock chair: