Monday, February 23, 2009

He Can't Have a Tooth, He's Only Four Months Old!

But apparently Absurdist Baby doesn't realize that most babies get their teeth around six months. His first tooth came up and is now clear as day (okay, white) -- it came up last Wednesday. And today he is officially four months old.

I'm just trying to make it through -- really I'm just edgy and worried and wishing that I would hear something from Interesting U, though really it will be definitely another week or two and maybe even more before I hear something. And that is if it's good news. Meanwhile I'm trying to do the very reasonable thing of applying to more schools. When I printed out an application for an upcoming community college deadline, I said over the printer: may I not need this application. Sigh.

I'm teaching a pre-transfer course that I taught last semester. Last semester, only a handful passed the class, but with being pregnant and everything, I didn't have time to feel bad about it. Really, most didn't pass the class because they didn't keep up with the work, not because their writing was good or bad. This semester, I began to feel bad about it -- that I can't figure out a way to reach the students, to make the work of academic writing seem worth the investment. But I totally understand not feeling invested in academic conversations. After all, who reads their academic writing to respond other than for evaluation? They are taught so often that academic writing is a matter of structure, rather than conversation. Who cares about mastering a set of discourse conventions if you can't see why you'd want to participate in the conversation? I worried and gnawed at this bone for a while the weekend before last. Then last week we had our first journal assignment due. I went around the room -- and about a dozen people hadn't done it. Sigh. And I had this epiphany: the reason why some of these students are in this pre-transfer class is because they don't do their schoolwork, not because no one has ever tried to reach them. My job is not to feel bad about the ones who don't do their work (but still show up -- don't they realize they're not in high school anymore???), but to spend my time on the ones who really want to figure out what they're not getting and move on. Still, I wish I could make them feel more invested in the work of the class and of the university in general -- but to be honest, I'm not very convinced either that drilling a certain kind of academic essay (which is what this writing sequence seems to do) is really that useful for all students (okay, the ones who are going to transfer, maybe, but what about the ones who are not? shouldn't we be teaching students how to enter a number of discourses and helping students develop strategies for figuring out how to enter discourses?). I'm sure my own lack of excitement for what I'm teaching comes across too. Isn't it interesting that the community college doesn't seem to care what we are committed to?

So here's a question. I'm teaching an intro to literature class organized by genre. I figure we'll do a writing assignment for each genre. But I want to mix it up: I just don't want students to write four different literary essays. It just seems so boring to me -- and aren't there other genres that discuss literature in interesting ways? I've been trying to think of different situations where readers would be asked to make an argument about a text beyond the "this is school, so write me an essay" kind of thing. I could break up the three essays into the traditional explication, analysis/argument, and evaluation essays, but I want to have different situations or even genres so there are real audiences to write to. Does anyone have any ideas? What are your favorite writing projects about literature? I'm out of my element (which is weird, because I used to do literature; on the other hand, I always wrote into conversations that I felt a part of, which I don't think would be the case for these students -- I guess I just want there to be some connection between a Facebook meme that asks people to name and explain a book that changed their lives and a close reading of a text that they have to do for class: help please!).

Money is tight. Jobs are scarce. Absurdist Baby is the cutest happiest thing I've ever seen, even teething (which has made his sleeping habits odd, but he doesn't actually scream a lot or anything). I feel more and more like Urban Home City is dying, and we need to get out because people here are just mean the way too many rats in a cage just start biting themselves and others for no reason. In short, same old same old.

Cross your fingers Interesting U wants to hire me. I'm in the bargaining stage so maybe I've already lost the job: I promise to blog more when I get an offer. Right now, even Absurdist Lover says I'm scaring him (mostly with bad puns). Happy equinox to all and to all a good night!

1 comment:

Lomagirl said...

How about having the students respond in authentic ways? Do they read tv or movie reviews? Have them write one as though what they are reading is a movie. Or have them do a radio interview pretending to be the author, and then turn that into an essay.
Is this what you're asking? If not, I'll shut up.