Friday, August 5, 2016

Ramping up to School Days! Set the table!

As tradition has it, academics and the classroom beckon at this time of year. Sounds like a holiday in such a "word frame". Yet, as an instructor, it is indeed a holiday of sorts. I begin to anticipate the possibilities this semester will bring. Too many times have I been asked if I get bored, teaching the same thing over and over. My definite and determined response is a resounding "No!" The material is boring if I choose for it to be, yet what defines the classroom experience for me is the incredible interaction with so many different people, students from every walk of life.

Imagine serving a meal to a group of thirty people. Maybe you have several vegetarians, a vegan, someone who is lactose intolerant, someone who has no clue as to protocol at a dinner: which fork do I use or when do I begin eating? Sure, that would be a bit more formal, but then so can a classroom when needed. For me, this dinner and teaching have similar dynamics: I have to know who is showing up, what they already know, what they do not know, how they learn, their past experiences with learning, how they interact with their host.

I could put a loaf of white bread, a jar of peanut butter and a jar of jelly (grape of course), and let that be it. This is it. This is the course content. It's up to you to eat the stuff or not. I'm just going to put it out there. If you don't choose to eat (learn the material), that's your problem. This metaphor could take many roads I think you will agree.

So, I look forward to my dinner guests. Yes, I'll tell students which fork to use as well as when we began using forks in Western culture even though America did not get the fork until later than Europe. Hopefully, my students will inform me well on what works for them, which foods they prefer. So, a new semester begins. Time to plan a number of dinner parties. Can't wait to meet my guests.

Here's to a great academic year! (No, you don't drink before everyone else during a moment of "Cheers". Use a semicolon for that. No, a comma won't do; it isn't strong enough to hold back that brewski. 

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