Posts

Showing posts from December, 2009

The Finish Line

Image
I don't mind telling anyone that his has been a difficult semester. In addition to teaching a lot more than I should have, I was wrestling with the new core curriculum, teaching an accelerated night course until 10:30 pm two nights a week, and trying to stay a week ahead in the sophomore honors section (a new prep). I would not call this my finest semester, and yet it had its moments. Here are a few good things that happened:
There was a young woman in my Introduction to Humanities course who showed up every day and sat listening to the class discussions as if they were the most fascinating subject she had ever encountered. I don't think I ever once saw her distracted or tuned out. A lot of days the interest evident in her eyes kept me going.

I growled at a kid in my sophomore honors section that he wasn't working up to his potential and he responded with a serious paper comparing Freud and John Stuart Mill on the uses and abuses of social restraint. I knew he really wanted…

Memo to Big Brother

Image
I inadvertently unleashed the dark side in my sophomore honors section this week. The course is a seminar focused on society, order and freedom. In it we read and discuss the usual suspects: Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Marx, but also other authors such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Edith Wharton, George Orwell and Frederick Douglass.

I wrote a standard ho-hum essay prompt that the students could write on if they wished, but I also came up up with some creative alternatives. Option B was to develop syllabi for three courses at Socrates University, an institution whose mission is to forever unfit people for intellectual slavery. If students wrote on this prompt, they had to select authors we read this semester and dream up the kind of learning experience that, say, a Professor Wollstonecraft or a Professor Thoreau might propose for the Soc U. curriculum. Then there was option C. That's where the trouble started:
Memo to Big Brother

(Final Paper Option C) You are a loyal member of the…