Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Further evidence that I'm an old softie

1. I took my class outside today--without being asked.

My creative nonfiction class is small (11 students) and it's a gorgeous morning--and besides, I've just about run out of things to teach them, so why not relax a little? We discussed a reading assignment and examined how comedy can be used to soften up readers and then smuggle in a serious point, and then they took turns reading their own short comic pieces aloud and laughing at each others' cleverness. We weren't even too terribly distracted by the noise of men working on a roof across the way or of the guy who cranked up a weed-whacker nearby.

(This is true: years ago I took a freshman comp class outside, first checking to make sure the coast was clear, and we were all sitting there on the lawn doing good work very diligently for about 20 minutes. Then the mowers showed up and started circling us like vultures. It is impossible to continue blithely conducting a class whilst being circled by ravenous lawnmowers.)

2. I've given that class Thursday as a research day, wink wink. All across campus, Friday classes are cancelled for our annual All Scholars Day, when students present the results of their research projects, but Thursday classes are supposed to meet as scheduled. However, many of the students in that class are giving presentations on Friday and they're all working on their final major project for my class (due next Monday), so no one's going to be paying any attention to anything I have to say on Thursday, even if I hadn't already run out of things to teach them. So they get a research day (may they use it wisely).

3. I'm offering small bits of extra credit in all my other classes. They have to work for those little bundles of bonus points (by attending All Scholars Day presentations and writing about what they've learned and how it relates to our class content, or by doing an extra assignment analyzing the films we'll be watching in class next week in particular ways), but for the desperate, any little bit helps and they're not particularly onerous to grade. It's even possible that they could (gasp!) learn something. Which, I think, is kind of the point.

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