Friday, April 4, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/03/14: Old School Teacher, Good Beer and Yakkin' at 16 Tons, Time Alone

1.  I read to my WR 115 class the piece I wrote entitled, "Being a Liberal Arts Teacher".  I want my students to know that their lack of preparation, deficiencies in English, and need for some fundamental instruction does not annoy me.  I wish I could say the same about the teachers I've heard over the years bitch about students who need this same help.  I'm paid to help my students.  I'm not paid to be annoyed or bitch about them.  I also want my students to know that I'm not teaching them a course that will help them get a job or launch a career.  I help students enter into self-examination, social examination, into entertaining some of the questions about examining the meaning of life, what it is to be a human being.  In this way, I'm as Old School as Socrates (though not as skilled).  I don't really care about tests and grades (although I give grades).  I know we don't have enough time over 10 weeks to meet all the outcomes I have to list on my syllabus.  I don't even know any longer where those outcomes originated.  From some level of state government?  From within our college?  From within our English department?  I've lost track.  I care most about helping my students learn to read better.  I want to help them write about what they read.  I want to help them learn to examine their ways of seeing the world, values, sources of meaning and happiness.  I want them to at least be introduced to the idea that breadth in learning, the foundation of a liberal arts education, is liberating.  It's a source of freedom.  Narrow, career-oriented, overly focused education is not liberating, nor is it practical.  Nothing is more practical than breadth of learning.  Nothing is more practical than this kind of freedom.  I might be out of step with current test-based, outcomes-based, job/career-oriented trends in education.  So be it.  I like knowing for at least four of their credits, my students will wrestle with and write about what it means to be human.  To me, this is the foundation of a liberal arts education and that's what I do.

2.  After such an exhilarating day with my WR 115 class, I joined Elliott, Jeff, Cliff, and Don at Sixteen Tons for some great conversation and some really great beer.  I enjoyed answering questions about the Deke and me moving east; I enjoyed talking about how, on the one hand, I would be leaving the comforts and ease of Eugene's weather climate and relaxed vibe, but how it's all about family and being close to Adrienne and Molly and their families.  I enjoyed the other rivers and tributaries of our yakking, too, and it was all made very pleasant by a pint of Firestone Walker Opal, a refreshing saison and by a half pint of a fantastic sour red/brown beer, Rodenbach Grand Cru. 

3.  To give the Deke a little more time at Sixteen Tons to enjoy her Green Flash Hop Odyssey Black IPA, I went across the street to McMenamin's ordered a pint of Hammerhead, a burger with pepperoni and swiss cheese, and a side of fries and took the Register Guard and Eugene Weekly off the window sill up by the bar and enjoyed some solitary time with one of my favorite beers, a fine bite to eat, and the current news.

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