Life in Omaha (in Scottsdale)

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006


It has been a while without any decent postings. I'm basically blogging in my head these days; gorgeous, epic-length diatribes on various aspects of culture that cross my path. Then I forget them by the time the day winds to a close and I can write.

School started yesterday--although this semester will be odd because the class (yes, still just one class--I can't recommend enough the one-one course load) I will be teaching is a hybrid course: one day in class and one day online. The day online is actually misnamed. We don't meet online but through asynchronus postings and such through Blackboard. I've always been a big fan of Blackboard, but used as a supplement to the classroom experience, not as a substitute. I think long-distance learning, especially in English courses, and most especially in writing courses, deprives students and teachers of critical face-to-face time that allows for immediate improvisation. If I'm a good teacher--let the debate begin--it is because of a dynamic presence in front of a classroom. What I've always seen as my strength is an ability to "work" the room so that I can lead students step by step as they work their way through understanding a text or discovering their own ideas.

This seems much more difficult online. Perhaps impossible. I simply cannot type fast enough nor can expect a rapid exchange of dialogue as an idea ferments.

But man is it much more convenient for me. No bus ride to campus. I can work the class in various stolen moments during the day and while pursuing other projects. So I prostituted myself: selling my scruples for more time.

So far, the whoring has been fun. The discussion board forum for introductions quickly degenerated into a flame war over the "war on Christmas" and the separation of church and state ("so-called" according to one of my students). To be fair, I started it, but mine was a very innocuous statement that was inspired by setting up modules over the holidays.

Tomorrow will be the first time I get to put a face to the words and ideas I've already seen from these people. I somehow doubt that the right wing ideologue will be dressed in khakis and oxford nor will the radical secularist show up in a pink mowhawk. But for the next 12 hours, that's how they look in my head.


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