Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Start is Near

The start of Year 2.0 is near, Fall 2007, and I'm in the midst of preparing for my the doctoral seminars in which I am a student and for the course I will teach in the fall semester. In about nine days life will be even more hectic than it already is.

Every teacher approaches a new course with some trepidation. Last year, I taught a public speaking course with a clear rhetorical framework and obvious goal: to help students inform and persuade audience. Technical writing is "rhetorical" — but it lacks the same flexibility. We tell students to think for themselves, to be independent, and then we (finally) explain that employers get to set the rules in real life. Of course I have some trepidation about a course that claims to focus on the world beyond the university. I know that world pretty well; the text isn't quite the reality I've experienced.

As a teacher, I must decide how to discuss reality outside the university. The text for the course is definitely idealistic, in some ways. In other ways, it is nearly mechanical: here are the rules you need to write in your career settings. Good luck! Reality is, rules seldom stay the same or work the same from employer to employer. But, I'm sure the students know this by now. Teachers aren't any more consistent than employers.

I'm outlining the text now, for my own use and for the students. I have to finalize a syllabus in the next seven days (or less), so I thought it would help to read the book the week before classes start.

I hope this year is much better than last year, on a number of levels.

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