New semester, new adventures

Today is the first day of spring semester. I don’t actually have class today, but will head on down to take care of paperwork and such. On the rundown: a 8000-level ed psych class called Understanding and Facilitating Adult Learning. I’ve already read the first few chapters of those textbooks, and it’s really, REALLY interesting. Our subject matter, apparently, will touch on the Dark Side of the University, among other things. One textbook is thick with passive-voice business-management rhetoric (at one point, reducing the entire history of formal education to one sentence…I’m still reeling); the other is an emperor-has-no-clothes critical analysis of various “theories” upon which many false assumptions are based, and takes the view that there are three theoretical approaches to adult ed: humanist, behaviorist, and postmodernist.   The devil is, as always, in the details. How do you define “adult education?” The simplistic answer would be “Any way I want to.” The serious answer is that there are various types of adult education, largely based on (as I read it) environment and purpose. (“Whose purpose?” you ask. What a smart question!) The big book seems to consider it a fait accompli that adult education (with the exception, it claims, of “higher” ed, which has a “mission” — I swear, I’m not making this up) exists to create worker bees for business and industry. Period. It does contain half a dozen suggestions for creating successful learning environments for adults, heavy on the collaborative approach. I’m not sure that this approach is effective in more than small doses for college freshman comp classes, however. When I let my kids pick from a short menu, they do well; when I throw an assignment open to their choosing, controlled chaos ensues. For example, allowing them at semester’s end to choose between media formats is far more successful than is throwing open the topic for an essay early in the semester. The little book insists that far too many programs, policies, and decisions about curriculum and instruction are based on fallacious reasoning. However, the author does not harangue RYS-style; he details the arguments and evidence, then watches the weak ones crumble and die.I can’t wait to see how this class goes. Then, there’s workshop, which is the main event. I have not been writing a lot lately, and am about to sneak out of here to get some of the new stuff down on paper. I’m going to experiment with a few things this semester. I’m also going to submit something somewhere each week this semester. It doesn’t matter where. I need to publish at least twice as much as I have been. Finally, there’s form and theory of fiction. The reading list kicks butt, and she gave it to us early, whic his always a plus. I’m supposed to have finished reading Swann’s Way by tomorrow–it is some of the very best writing I’ve ever read and, from what I gather and from what La R. says, Lydia Davis‘ translation is extraordinarily good. If you’re interested in class, significant social glances, and why some people mistakenly think that they are others’ social betters, or if you’re interested in how writers play with time, you will love this novel.* * *According to the checklist, I need two fiction classes and one poetry class and that’ll be it for coursework. However, I may succumb to the temptation to take History of the English Language (and other such linguistic goodies which I have not yet gotten around to taking) during dissertation time. I’m not taking any classes at all during comps. None. And I have an extra pedagogy class that I’m required to take this summer. La R. and I are also going to take an intensive CELTA certification course this summer. We’re going worldwide, baby. I’m determined to place a chapbook with a small/literary press this semester. It’s long overdue, and I have enough material. That will take off the pressure of not having a book, while not gutting my supply of new material pre-dissertation.  OK, time to get out of here. Santa showered me with e-toys, not the least of which is a new car stereo, which plays both CDs and my iPod. Being able to study in my car is mission-critical. Now I can do it. 

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