No Fancy Name
Saturday, September 02, 2006
brief thoughts on my seminars and new students
When I wrote (briefly) about my first week of seminars for this semester, I didn't really know anything about them—we had only met once, on administration day (syllabus and general chatting day). Now that I've had full-length meetings of both seminars, I can safely say that both will be great. These two seminars will be a good way to end my MA coursework—on a positive note and all that.

Although I am still not a huge fan of poetry, my poetic craft and theory seminar is a lot of fun. The fellow who teaches it has done so for a gazillion years, and he's still so gleeful about it that you can't help but be enthusiastic with him. It's no secret that a confident and enthusiastic instructor is the key to a positive learning environment, and this fellow/this seminar is a perfect example. The classroom time goes by pretty quickly as he moves us through our thought processes and we come out the other end all learned and such. I love it when that happens. "Oh that's what I know? Awesome." Plus, it's nice to be able to play the "what period is this from" game with a piece of anonymous poetry, answer correctly, and have a reason besides "I used the Force" to say just why I placed it in the correct time period. For those of you remotely interested in the poet I plan to work with for my seminar paper, I chose Paul Laurence Dunbar. He was really the only person I had on my short list, and I put him there for various reasons (in other words, I didn't flip through the Norton and randomly choose him). I think I'll have fun with the project. Oh, and another thing...we're reading Vikram Seth's The Golden Gate and it's really quite fun.

Take everything I said about my poetry seminar and apply it to my composition studies seminar, less the seminar topic and book title. I still don't have the foggiest idea about my project for that class, since "anything related to composition studies" is a bit broad. Ok, that's not entirely true—I have some glimmer of a thought about something but I don't know enough about what I'm thinking about to know if it's viable. I'm going to think more about it this weekend and then bounce it off my prof next week. It's technologically oriented, which breaks my whole "no! I'm not using technology, damnit! I just spent the last decade (plus) of my life building things, and I'm taking my toys and going home" rule, so I have to square that with myself first.

Moving on...let me say a word or two about my classmates. Finally, idiot girl is not in any of my seminars, nor is idiot boy. It's like Chriskwanzakah for us! Seriously, their absence alone makes this semester exponentially better than the other two. So far, the new students we have are simply quiet and shy (and overwhelmed). As is common, they were given no instruction as to The Way Things Work. As someone who knows The Way Things Work, I took it upon myself to help. The whole mentality that exists about not helping out your fellow student because everything's a competition and you may be helping someone who will one day be your competitor on the job market, well, I call bullshit. Of course, it is true that your classmate may one day be your competitor in the job market, but really, telling someone where to get their parking pass or how advising works in the department, or detailing the responsibilities of a Teaching Associate, or answering the "what does academic writing look like?" question and helping them start down their own path—it's just being a good citizen. So after comp studies class on Thursday, I answered questions for a couple hours and generally made people feel better about themslves. Come to find out they're not actually sullen—which is how they appeared in class—they're just terrified. But no more! Hooray.

Best line in my classes so far: we were reading several essays in The Writing Teacher's Sourcebook and several of us (including the prof) noted that one essay was particularly bad. One of the new students, a week removed from China, said, "I am so happy you said this is a bad essay. I thought it was my bad English!" We all laughed and said not to worry, for it really is the authors' bad English. Ha ha. Everyone felt better.



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