January 25, 2009

The snow is nearly gone and the snow in the forecast came as rain, which was not a bad thing because it was warm and I enjoyed the cloudy drippy day—the first cloudy day since I’ve been back at NAU after Christmas break. Classes are going ok, but I still haven’t figured out how to please all my teachers without hard work. This means a lot of agonizing and hair pulling goes on during creative sessions over homework assignments. Math is actually the least of my worries at this point; homework is easy and perhaps the most difficult thing is enduring the one hour and forty minute class lecture twice a week.

English is entirely another issue. I have a Russian teacher and this adds a few minor communication challenges to an already excruciating course. The traditional college classroom image of a stern teacher and a chalkboard, a tiny room crammed full of tiny chair desks with old windows and worn gray carpet describes my English class perfectly. The flag in the corner is faded and dusty. Gone are the swivel chairs, the shiny new Dells for each student, overhead projectors, sound system, and expansive white boards of last semester in the Business college. This is Liberal Arts—a college that apparently has been around for awhile. I’ll have to face class solo without the companionship of Facebook and Gmail. Grades will depend upon my skill with pen and notebook –and later at home, the sequence of keystrokes that can make or break an essay.

Ahh, but isn’t skill what I’m trying to build? And, is learning ever painless? I’m still unconvinced that the best writing uses complicated structure and words only educated people can guess at, but those prejudices will have to be squashed if I am going to succeed in this class. I love writing as long as I’m not forced to do it—but forget that idea, I will have to learn to write with deadlines. Coffee has vaulted me over deadlines so far, but I may have maxxed out that advantage, because the other day I drank so much (1 1/2 pots) that I couldn’t type because I was too shaky. Assignment completion strategies are going to have to change; is this what they call learning? Assignments are sometimes easy, sometimes hard, but learning is always hard. It’s a tough class, but as McCrea says, “Something tells me I’m into something good…”

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