Monday, September 20, 2010

Returning to Teaching Composition

In two weeks, we'll be starting our Fall quarter (we're on a very strange quarter system, which means we're often on a different schedule than most people). I'm returning to teaching Composition (English 1101, 101, the course that every school still has).

I last taught Composition in 2007. I didn't mean to be away so long. But I did need the break. I'd been teaching Composition since 1998, after all.

In some ways, I'm lucky. I got to take a break. Many of you would call me unlucky though--to take that break, I had to move into full-time administration, which means at least 40 hours on campus, week after week.

I'm looking forward to being back in front of that class. I plan to try some experimental things, to insert poetry wherever I can. For example, in Diane Lockward's blog post yesterday, she discusses Mark Doty's The Art of Description: World into Words : "There's also an outstanding discussion of four different sunflower poems—one by Blake, one by Alan Shapiro, one by Allen Ginsberg, and one by Tracy Jo Barnwell." That sentence immediately triggered several essay ideas. I'll have to get that book; she recommends it highly, and I like Doty.

The last time I taught Composition, we had an exit exam graded by colleagues. Now we don't. That frees me up considerably. When last I taught the class, we had no online component, unless we created one ourselves. Now we have a software platform provided by the school.

So, I've been dreamily considering a syllabus. It occurs to me that it's time to actually commit ideas to paper.

I love teaching writing of all kinds. Most people understand the importance of that skill, even if they don't approve. Literature, on the other hand, is a tougher proposition. I'm often the only one in the room who has read the material. That situation gets exhausting after awhile.

I've been pondering the impact of technology in the classroom and on our collective educational futures. I'm not the only one. For those of you who want some articles, The New York Times magazine features the subject this week. For those of you with limited time, go straight to Jaron Lanier's article on whether or not technology enfeebles the mind.

But enough Internet surfing. It's time to focus on getting ready for Fall! It's still 92 degrees here during the day, but it felt slightly cooler this morning; I think our overnight temps have finally starting dipping back into the 70's, which isn't exactly autumnal, but it's better than waking up before dawn to temps of 85 degrees.

No comments: