Saturday, August 27, 2005

Too Much Focus? Not Me

One bit of advice offered to graduate students and professors in their pre-tenure years is to specialize, with laser-like focus, andestablish a niche you can protect and defend.

Excuse me? There could be no advice less academically acceptable to me. It would be better to read and explore nothing than to close your eyes to anything outside a little box. In fact, I think you would learn more and contribute more outside the walls of a university so dedicated to specialization.

I do not want to declare a little niche. I want to be a little of everything, specialist in nothing. I believe in the concept of a Renaissance scholar. There is inspiration to be found in every field, in every experience. To exist in a little fortress is to shield yourself from accidental discovery.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Planning Continues

I have been struggling along this summer, planning for Introduction to College Writing. It isn't the syllabus or grading that has mestumped -- it is the calendar of readings and lectures.

Why? Because I haven't received copies of the texts.

Without desk copies of the various texts, I am stuck outlining a semester in only the vaguest of ways. Supplemental readings and the novel I have assigned are easy enough to insert at the last moment, but what can I do when the primary texts are missing? My goal at the moment is to have everything in place, so the last weekend beforeclass can be spent composing a somewhat accurate calendar.

This experience is nothing new for educators. It simply marks the normal panic students never witness. When the first day of class arrives, the students should assume the instructor is the model ofpreparedness. Ideally, I will be that model.