Monday, August 31, 2015

Back in the saddle

I do so love teaching! After fifteen months away, I'm back in the seminar classroom, creating spaces where students can explore things I love!

Someone's scheduled my two main classes for the semester back-to-back, 11:55-13:35 and 13:50-15:30 Mondays and Wednedays, so I have little time even to catch my breath between them. So I'm still a little breathless now, 4 hours later. Breathless with excitement!

Theorizing Religion began, once again, with the Belief-O-Matic - this time everyone had a smartphone so everyone had a result to puzzle over. Excellent discussion flowed from it, setting the stage for many issues we'll be considering. Including the new one, "religion making." Looking at the odd questions and sometimes even odder possible answers, at the sloppy list of religions at the end (Mayhayana? Reformed Judaism?) and at the weird correlation percentages, along with wondering who designed and who frequents such a page, got us well into our topic. It's a(nother) great group of students!

Then it was a sprint up to 16th Street for my first year seminar, where, after a rather longer discussion of the syllabus (starting with "what is a syllabus?"), I gave them a wonderful introduction to Lang. We started with a video from the 30th anniversary celebration in May - our namesake benefactor Eugene Lang's son Stephen, a film actor, reading aloud the speech his father gave when Lang was started in 1985. It's hilarious because it's such a lousy performance - for whatever reason, Stephen's heart just wasn't in it. We laughed: such self-importance in talk about places, including ours!

But no matter, appearing later in the 30th anniversary program was alumna Jean Rohe (remember her?), who mentioned her "alternate national anthem." We watched her lovely video: you can too!
"Now there's something you could do at college," I said. We were securely back in the land of ideals, of the value, and values, of education. And then it was time for Sekou Sundiata's wonderful "Shout Out" - it was Sekou whom Jean Rohe was talking about at the 30th anniversary shindig. From platitudes to engaged students and their inspirational teachers - now all that remained was to walk down to the University Center and glide down the five stories of courses...

What luck to be able to do something I love in so congenial an environment!

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