Here’s what caught my eye this week
As I prepare to go back to work on Monday after a barely-there-not-quite-full-week of vacation, this article in McSweeney’s made me laugh in delighted solidarity. An acquaintance once chuckled and said, “All you do anyway is change the dates on the syllabus, right? It’s no big deal.” I guess if you aren’t reading, studying, attending conferences, reflecting, and growing then you just change dates. For me, writing a syllabus takes a lot of time and reflection. I have no way to anticipate the chemistry and rapport of a room full of new students, what there interests are, what their level of competence is, and what will confuse/excite/challenge them.
Here’s my favorite tidbit from the essay, although the whole thing is great:
I would rather go shopping for jeans or foundational undergarments or practical-yet-cute footwear than write this damn Syllabus because I do not know what I will want you to read on November 22.
As the mother of two sons, I appreciated this article. As the opening of the essay asks, “What can we possibly have to say to a boy if we can’t ask him about football, basketball or soccer?” This is so true. Any time anyone met my sons for the first time or any routine visit to the doctor or dentist, questions about sports ensued. They both dabbled in sports a bit, both socially and occasionally in organized school or community teams, but they weren’t big sports guys. This was especially true in high school. I’m glad to say that at the ages of 19 and 22 neither of them have ever had a concussion. Instead of sports, Adam was really into music, art, and writing and Noah was exploring photography and playing pick-up games of ultimate. How about instead, let’s ask boys and young men what they enjoy? What are their passions? What challenges them? Let’s not ask them what sports they play and assume that they all do play one. Just like the red carpet campaign #askhermore to ask female celebrities about more than who designed her dress, let’s #askhimmore than just sports.
This topic probably will ultimately result in its own post, since this is a soapbox issue for me. Christian art—music, fine art, movies, literature, etc.–what even is it? Since art doesn’t have a soul, it can’t be “Christian” unless someone (usually a marketer) labels it as such. We don’t need the sacred and secular denotations. If the artist has a Christian worldview that will be captured in true art, whether intentional or not. Many times, even when the creator of art doesn’t have that worldview, truth is truth and may still point back to God. I personally don’t see how anyone can watch Gran Turino, an R-rated movie laced with profanity and some violence, and not see a Christ-image in the way that Clint Eastwood’s character sacrifices his life for his marginalized neighbor. On the flip side, one could read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and take it as a simple and engaging story of four children, a witch, and a lion…or they can see that Aslan is Christ in all of his glory. (P.S., I don’t read “Christian” fiction because 90% of my experiences with it are that it is formulaic, poorly written drivel.)
I thought this was a fun little mental exercise. How would you write your own memoir in six words? Some of my ideas:
- Open your eyes and be amazed.
- Keep reading! It takes you places.
- I met my husband in third-grade
- Southern belle to cheese head…really!
- Hard times are teachers–listen, learn
- Unlearn everything you thought you knew
I try to emphasize the negative impact of directive language in all of my language disorders courses. Directive language is talking to children in short, abrupt sentences usually while telling them to do or not to do something. It is not warm or instructive and the vocabulary level is usually very poor with lots of repetition of the same words–“sit down!, come here!, what did I tell you to do?” The above article and the compelling video make a really good point of showing the negative effects of directive speech and easy alternatives. This applies to school and home.
Quote of the week
Art of the week: