The school year has begun and true to form, September is already passing quickly. Students as well as teachers are still sorting out their routines, their schedules, and their roles on campus for the next four months. This is an easier task for some than it is for others. It’s still fairly easy to pick out the students who are just starting school for the first time. The look of shock hasn’t quite worn off yet.
Please forgive the low quality of the photo. This is one of the very few pictures of my home office before I started the Great Book Reorganization.
I work at a community college, where there are no admission requirements beyond a high school diploma. We are the Statue of Liberty of higher education. We take the tired and the poor, and many of our masses really do huddle together, especially the small cadres of smokers grabbing a quick fix before class starts. Because of the absence of entrance requirements, students need to take a placement exam in math, reading, and writing to see if they need remediation in these areas, or if they already have the skills to embark on college level work. Continue reading
Perhaps many people who have spent their lives on an academic schedule would agree that the advent of September and Labor Day weekend feels like New Year’s Eve. We all have brand new things: new clothes and shoes, clean notebooks, fresh pens and pencils, and hope in the potential of another school year. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I even make some ‘resolutions’ for the new year. I always promise that my syllabuses will be organized and clear, my papers will be graded on time, and my sarcasm will not reach full force until at least the end of October, and will be directed only to the toughest students who can take it. Continue reading
It’s time for another Friday Word of the Week. I started this topic to help myself learn more words and to give myself motivation to expand my reading and put more challenging authors into my reading circulation (Hello, Nabakov!). I also found that the intense focus on a word helped me truly learn it in a more complete way than simply looking it up and trying to remember it.
In this journey so far, short as it’s been, I’ve learned some brand new words and explored the origins of familiar words. There’s a third kind, however, that needs to be included as well: words that I recognize and should know, but whose definition, for some reason, escapes me. These are the words that prompt me, when I see them, to think, “Oh, I know that word. It means…um…uh…oh yeah, it’s about…Okay, fine, fine! I’ll look it up. Crap.” I trot off to consult a dictionary. What usually happens next is a sharp slap to the forehead and an exclamation of “Well, duh!” And then comes the forgetting. Lather, rinse, repeat. Several times. Continue reading