Monthly Archives: October 2007

Programming Note

Grammar Wednesday IS coming – just not in as timely a manner as you may have come to expect.

Mr. Chili and I are on a haj to IKEA today and I didn’t pre-compose my GW post this week, so you’ll have to wait until tonight – maybe even tomorrow – for your weekly dose of English language snobbery.  I beg your kind indulgence and patience.

Love!

~Chili

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YES!

I really am having a FANTASTIC semester.

I’m almost afraid of admitting that – I hear (and read) a lot of my colleagues’ trials and frustrations, and I feel a little guilty for have a truly stellar time of things so far. I’m also a little afraid of jinxing myself, but I just can’t keep good stuff quiet.

For a Tuesday, today went REMARKABLY well. Usually, my classes are subdued (read: comatose) on Tuesdays. My first class – the 8:40 composition group – is particularly challenging on Tuesday mornings; I find myself looking out on 13 sets of glassy eyes just BEGGING to be let out on a nice, long break – then let out of class early, to boot.

Not so today! Today, we worked on description, which is one of my favorite units. I started the class by giving them two writing assignments: they were to describe something (an object, an event, a person) from memory. Once they’d finished that, they were to get out of their seats and go out of the room and find something out in the world to describe.

I wanted to get them to see the different kind of work that has to be done when they are describing something from memory than when they are trying to describe something right in front of them. When they returned, I had them read their “right in front of them” pieces, and they managed to provide me with the entirety of my lesson plan: we covered detail (“was it a BAR stool, or was it a DINER stool?”); we discussed context (“would you have described that lamp any differently if it were hanging in, say, a Quiznos?”); we talked about how individuals bring different experiences to their reading (“when you said ‘the tree looked like a carnation, only green,’ I was transported back to Beanie’s birth – which happened the day before St. Patrick’s day – when I was given a green carnation on my breakfast tray the next morning. I’m not sure that’s the image you wanted me to have…”). It was a fun, engaging, and interesting conversation, and we BARELY had time for the synonym game I had planned for the end of class. We may start with that on Thursday.

My Lit. kids are ROCKING MY WORLD. While most of them admitted to not being able to do much reading this weekend (only two of them had made it to chapter 21, which was the last section of the book I’d given them), they were all able to discuss the first five or so chapters. We talked about the importance of literacy in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (“It seems like no one actually TALKS to anyone in this story, doesn’t it?” one of my kids said, “they’re always writing these LONG letters…”). They, MUCH to my geeky delight, were able to tie Walton’s and Victor’s childhoods together in a very meaningful way (“they were both self-taught through books, both their fathers thought they should do something other than what they wanted, and they both sought glory and the ‘bettering of future generations.’”).

I gave them my friend Rick’s blog and magazine article about his experiences reading Frankenstein with me last year (it nicely dovetailed with a conference he was tasked to cover as part of his job) and we discussed the novel in the context of medical ethics (I’ve got two med. assist. students in the class) and some of the issues facing science and medicine right this very second. Later, we talked about Milton’s Paradise Lost (I had to fill them in on the high points of the story – I was the only one in the room who’d slogged through that tome) and the Bible and how the big ideas of those stories related to Victor’s character in very meaningful and rich ways, particularly in terms of humans’ desire to learn – to KNOW – perhaps more than they should..

I had to let them go early – I had a commitment that started about a half hour before the class ended – and they told me (GET THIS!) that they were DISAPPOINTED that I was springing them ahead of schedule! Not only that, but they want to start a BOOK CLUB on campus! Can you BELIEVE it?

I am head over heels in love with this bunch and, right now, I’m SO glad I do the work that I do.

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Filed under colleagues, fun, great writing, Learning, Literature, out in the real world, Questions, reading, success!, Teaching, the good ones

Heh

I don’t really like the built-in site meter that WordPress offers, but I’m not computer-smart enough to figure out how to get any other (good) site meters to work on this forum. For as much as I hated Blogger (and I really did hate Blogger), they worked with SiteMeter, which is, as far as my limited experience goes, an ass-kicking site meter.

ANYWAY, I was checking out my WordPress meter this morning, just to see what was going on at this little blog. One of the categories it gives me is “Search Engine Terms: these are terms people used to find your blog.”

It seems that, yesterday, someone found me simply by typing “frustrated” into their favorite search engine.

I’m not sure how I feel about that because, really, I haven’t been particularly frustrated lately. Of course, now that I’ve used the word “frustrated” three times in one post, I’m probably increasing the likelihood of someone finding me this way again, aren’t I?

Frustrated, frustrated, frustrated!

On another note, does anyone know of a really great site meter that works with WordPress? I miss SiteMeter’s detail and I’d like to have something better than what WordPress is offering me. SaintSeester suggested Activemeter, so I went and got an account, but they really don’t tell me much more than the WordPress meter does – most of the reports on my Activemeter account are “UNAVAILABLE.”

Grrr. Gee – I guess I AM a little frustrated!

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Filed under frustrations, funniness, little bits of nothingness

Crossover

I may be “cheating.”

It was my turn to choose a selection for the Dark and Stormy Book Club, so I’ve got us reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which also happens to be the novel I’m teaching my lit. class this month.

I started the class by showing them the Hallmark interpretation of the storyI’ve mentioned this production before – I really do love it.  I’ve never seen the Boris Karloff film – can anyone give me a rundown of the story as the old filmmakers imagined it, please? – but I know that they involve a big, green guy whose only purpose in “life” is to terrify innocent villagers.  The Hallmark story really does a decent job of telling the big ideas of Shelley’s novel – it touches on ambition and hubris, humanity and literacy, love, fear, and responsibility.

I think that the film, for all it’s really good stuff, has a few weak points, though.  Frankenstein’s childhood story is altered a fair bit in the movie.  He makes a couple of realizations in the film that he never quite gets to in the novel.  The depth of Frankenstein’s obsession isn’t as serious in the movie as it is in the story.  Lastly, the Creature, as played by Luke Goss, is a little too handsome in the film; I bet that, if seen in dim light, he wouldn’t be instantly repulsive or frightening.

My students, while admitting to being overwhelmed by the amount of reading I’m asking them to do in a short amount of time (“It’s a literature class, kids – you had to expect a lot of reading”), told me on Thursday that they were enjoying it.  Only one student of the eight has had any experience with the text before – she read a portion of the novel in high school – and the rest of them seem pretty enthusiastic to get into it.  One of my students – my only boy – told me, after reading through chapter four, that he understands why it’s my favorite novel.  I’m still working out why it’s my favorite story, so I’m really looking forward to discussions with this group.

Their only homework this weekend was to keep reading (I’ve given them through chapter 21).  I’m going to have to rely pretty heavily of my memory of the story (good thing I’ve read it about seven times already) because, since this is a Yoga National Guard weekend, I’ve got about zip-point-shit for reading time.  I’ll probably get through to about chapter 15 or so – I was ahead of their reading last week, anyway – and we’ll start discussions on Tuesday.  I can’t wait.

Have YOU read the novel?  Do you like it?  Let’s start a conversation here: gimme what you got!

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Filed under admiration, Literature, reading, Teaching, the good ones

A Difference of Perspective

I’m not an innocent. I know that everyone has a different view of the world and that no one sees anything exactly the same way. I’m okay with that, even – it makes life interesting and, on good days, it challenges growth.

October 11th is National Coming Out Day. In honor of the day, and to promote awareness of TCC’s fledgling GSA, I took my multi-colored markers to every white board I had access to. I put up a big, pink triangle in a corner and wrote “It’s National Coming Out Day – do you know who you are?” then drew a rainbow flag and “TCC’s GSA” at the bottom of the point. It didn’t take up THAT much room on the boards, and I thought it was important to get that message out to our students.

While I was waiting for the professor who teaches in my second period classroom to finish his first period lesson, I drew my little announcement on the corner of the board of the room across the hall – the room that my coworker occupies for second period. He finished, we switched rooms and while I was drawing the notice on my board, he was erasing it on his.

Now, I should say here that I UNDERSTAND that it’s HIS board for the class period and that he was WELL within his rights to erase the message. That didn’t keep me from fuming about it, though.

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I know, from what trusted people have told me, that this colleague of mine is homophobic and closed-mined. He believes what he believes, and no one is going to change his mind, regardless of how compelling the argument might be – or how shaky his foundations for belief are. Be that as it may, he is also a TEACHER and, as such, has certain ethical responsibilities to present his students with a range of information and ideas. While the NCOD message may not have been particularly relevant to his lesson plan, it certainly wasn’t HURTING anyone, either. As I said, it didn’t take up much white board space, it wasn’t offensive or pornographic or incendiary, it wasn’t ugly to look at and, most importantly, it wasn’t put there FOR HIM! I intended that message for the students in the class, and my coworker’s erasing it was, in my mind, equal to censorship.

My lit. students came into the room to find me at a low-grade seethe, and managed to get out of me what had been the trigger. A couple of my students (who, it turns out, had been students of Eraser Boy) decided that, when he dismissed his class for break, they’d not ONLY go back in there and put the sign back up, but they’d pass out GSA buttons and information to the students in the room while they were at it, which is exactly what they did.

Can you guess what happened when the teacher came back?

My class and I were all seated quietly around our table, the door to the room left ajar, listening for Eraser Boy’s reaction. He came in, took one look at his board, and said something to the effect of “YES, I KNOW who I am, so can we stop with the signs, already?!” and rubbed the message out again.

What. Ever.

I know I’m going to have a confrontation with this man at some point. I’m not going to go LOOKING for it, mind you – I’m not like that – but I know that, at some point, he’s going to say something ignorant and hateful in my presence and I’m not going to let it go because I promised myself that I WON’T let ignorant and hateful things go – my morality tells me that silence is tantamount to complicity in things like this.

images-5.jpeg

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Filed under colleagues, concerns, frustrations, Gay/Straight Alliance, General Griping, student chutzpah

Grammar Wednesday

Holy Crap! It’s Wednesday again ALREADY?!

This question was posed by a reader who specifically asked for anonymity – I’m not sure why, exactly, as there’s really nothing incriminating in it, but you ask and I honor – so I’m just going to post the question and leave it at that. This was on a high school English test:

Instructions-

Rewrite this THESIS sentence with the correct verb tenses.

—-

images2.jpegIn Lord of the Flies, William Golding exposed humanity’s tendency to act selfishly even when faced with dire circumstances that threaten to sever the boys’ friendships, destroy lives and create irrational fear.

————————–

My daughter changed it to-

In Lord of the Flies, William Golding exposes humanity’s tendency to act selfishly even when faced with dire circumstances that threaten to sever the boys’ friendships, destroy lives and create irrational fear.

————————–

The three words that are underlined were underlined by her teacher as being incorrect- and she was marked down half a point. I KNOW her corrected sentence STILL is wrong, but I’m not sure WHY and I don’t think that the three words underlined are necessarily wrong.

Can you please #1 correct the sentence and #2 explain why the teacher underlined those three words?

THANK you so much.

I’m not making any promises that anything I say is right (you should all know by now that this disclaimer is implied in pretty much everything I say), but here’s what I think:

somewhere in the course of the sentence, the topic shifts. In the first part of the construction, we’re talking about how Golding is portraying humanity (and, by the way, your daughter was 100% correct in changing the “exposed” to “exposes.” We English types always talk about lit. in the present tense), but somewhere after that, the sentence shifts to talking specifically about the boys in the story.

Humanity is a collective noun and, as such, takes a singular verb, which is why I don’t really have a problem with the even when faced bit. It would be fine to say “Humanity has a tendency to act selfishly, even when faced with circumstances where cooperation is required” or something to that effect.

I suppose the argument could be made that, since Golding is the actual SUBJECT of the sentence, that he is, in fact, the one being faced with circumstances. If I were asked to change the sentence on an exam, I’d do more than change verb tenses – this is just a rotten sentence. I’d probably do something like this, and then have a long and probably heated conversation with the teacher afterward:

In Lord of the Flies, William Golding exposes humanity’s tendency to act selfishly in the face of dire circumstances, and shows that even children bear out that tendency when he puts his characters in situations that threaten to sever the boys’ friendships, destroy lives, and create irrational fear.

I’m not 100% satisfied with that, even, but it’s better than what we started with. Anyone else want to take a shot at this?

Happy Wednesday, Everyone! Next week, a question from O’Mama!

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I LOVE My Job!

I’m having a really great semester.

I’ve got two classes this term – a composition course that meets at 8:40 on Tuesdays and Thursdays and a literature class that meets immediately after at 11:10. They’re both small groups – there are 15 in the composition class and 8 in lit. – and I’m loving every second of it.

This morning, there were only seven students in the composition class; I gather there’s some sort of rude bug going around and a lot of people are sick (I’ve been making hex signs and knocking on wood all day). We’re at the part of the semester where I introduce the idea of dispassionate observation, and I started the class by projecting this image of Samuel Bak‘s “Self Portrait” on the board at the front of the room with the words OBSERVE and WRITE written next to the picture:

self_portrait1.jpg

(Click to see a larger image and recognize that the actual painting is enormous)

The students ROCKED it. I wasn’t in the room for most of the time I gave them to do the work – I planned it that way; I wanted to give them a chance to talk amongst themselves without my influence, and I didn’t want them to ask me what it meant. When I got back, I got a lot of really interesting comments – one student said that she focused in on the shoes, and did they belong to the image behind them or did they belong to the seated figure, whose feet we can’t see because s/he’s in that sack? One student thought that the figure with his arms raised over his head was trying to communicate with the seated figure, while another student thought that the seated figure was remembering the standing one. Only one student noticed the Star of David on the chest of the standing figure, and one student commented that the seated figure had a look on his or her face that was both challenging and vacant at the same time; “it’s like he’s looking straight at you, daring you to look back, but when you do, there’s really nothing there; it’s like he’s stunned. Maybe that’s what the pen’s for,” he went on to say, “he can’t SAY what he remembers, so he has to write it down.”

It was gorgeous; this may well be my favorite lesson plan ever.

My literature class is finishing up a unit on identity and self-actualization, which we started with a run through A Doll’s House and have completed with a selection of literature centered around the Holocaust. I didn’t get through NEARLY the amount of material I wanted, but what we did get to was fruitful and exciting. Today, I snagged a coworker from downstairs and together we read Dachau, a Reading in Two Voices for the five of my eight students who made it to class. I’m very much looking forward to reading their reactions of that experience. I also gave them the story of Simon Wiesenthal’s The Sunflower, in which the slave prisoner Wiesenthal is asked by a dying Nazi for absolution for his actions. The students’ assignment for the weekend it to comment on what Wiesenthal actually did in the face of that request and to answer the question he poses at the end of the story: what would you have done?

I ran into my boss this afternoon at the photocopier (it was only a minor collision; we’re both fine) and he told me to not love the literature class too much. The woman who usually teaches the course is out this semester recovering from shoulder surgery, and it’s likely that there won’t be many sections left for anyone else to take when she gets back. I’m a little upset by this; I feel most at home in this course, doing this work, and I’m not sure how I feel about any one professor calling dibs on an entire run of classes. Of course, there’s nothing I can do about it, really, except teach a kick-ass class and hope that word gets out that I’m really great for this course.

Regardless of what the future may or may not hold, I’m loving the present. Next up, the question of nature vs. nurture, what makes us human, responsibility and the power of nature, all wrapped up in one of my favorite books ever; Frankenstein!

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Filed under I love my boss, Learning, Literature, self-analysis, success!, Teaching, the good ones

Grammar Wednesday

I was completely stumped for Grammar Wednesday fodder last night – CTG, with his wonderful suggestions, had spoiled me into not having to think – so I emailed Kizz and begged for her help. Here’s one of the many suggestions she fired back (I’m saving the rest for future inspirationless GWs):

My pet peeves of late have been words that don’t mean what people think they mean. Like eminently vs. imminently. So immigrate vs. emigrate would also work there.

Okay, then! Another Commonly Confused Words Edition it is!

Eminent is an adjective that means being distinguished or high in rank, station, or repute.

Skateboarding is a topic about which he is eminently qualified to write.

Immanent is also an adjective, but this one means inherent or intrinsic.

Phillip K. Dick believed that empathy is a quality immanent to human beings; androids, he wrote, don’t have the capacity to care about others.

Imminent is an adjective that means ready to happen or impending.

We could tell, from the change in the background music, that an attack by the monster was imminent.

Immigrate is a verb which means to come to a place where one is not native, usually with the intent of permanent residence.

Once she met her future husband, Hilary started making arrangements to immigrate to his native England.

Emigrate is also a verb, but this one means to leave a place and settle in another.

Many Irish families emigrated to the U.S. during the potato famine in their home country.

The flavor of these words is slightly different – people immigrate willingly but are forced by conditions in their homelands to emigrate.

These are problems I see often, both in my travels around the internet and in my own students’ writing:

Loose is an adjective that means not bound or constrained:

When his dinghy got loose of its fastening, Chuck had to swim to his sailboat from the dock.

Lose is a verb which means to come to be without something through a variety of means, or to fail to keep, preserve, or maintain.

Beanie didn’t lose her first tooth until she was nearly eight and a half.

It’s difficult to lose a loved one, no matter what the circumstances.

Past is an adjective that means gone by in time; ago:

It’s half past six.

She was the past president of our PTA.

Passed is either an adjective which means having completed the act of passing:

He passed his entrance exam by a mere 6 points.

or a verb (which is the past tense of pass) that means to proceed or move by:

I was passed by a little old lady in a lime green Chevy convertable.

Happy Wednesday, Everyone!

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Well, Damn!

As an assignment for the play we’ve just finished reading (Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House), I tasked my students to:

please imagine what happens to Nora immediately after the play ends.  She gets her cloak on and leaves Torvald at their apartment.  Her plan, as she states on page 1525, is to spend the night with Kristine and figure out what she’s going to do from there.  When she arrives at Kristine’s, one of three things could happen:

            1.  There is no one home.
            2.  Kristine is home alone.
            3.  Kristine and Krogstadt are both there.

Please imagine a full scene – what would happen as a consequence of the choice you made from the possible events that Nora could encounter at Kristine’s door?   Use what you know (or think you know) about the characters involved, try to use language and mannerisms that would suit the characters, and don’t be afraid to take risks and have fun with this.  You don’t HAVE to include stage directions (what the character is doing or where the character moves within the set), but please feel free to if you feel it enhances your work.

Don’t be afraid to tackle what you feel the most difficult choice would be – don’t worry if you can’t get EVERYTHING in just right; I’ll be more impressed if you take risks and try something hard and not do so well than if you take the easy way out and just phone this in.  With me, you get a lot of points for trying, even if you don’t quite succeed.

If you have any questions or problems, just let me know.  I’m VERY much looking forward to reading what you come up with for this assignment – there are a lot of great possibilities there.

I knew that their responses were going to be good: the discussions the play generated in class were intriguing and fun, and the students – pretty much all eight of them – were enthusiastic about and engaged in the work.

One of my students far exceeded even my high expectations, however.  The scene that he imagined is rich with emotion, no one says anything out of character, he even managed to capture a good bit of the speaking style of  the characters he chose to work with.  It’s an amazing bit of work, and it blew me away.  I have no crystal ball, but I still predict that this young man is going to do extremely well in this class.

Enjoy!

[A knock is heard at Kristine’s door.  With an unsure look, Kristine presses her ear to the door.]

MRS. LINDE.  Who is it?
NORA.  [tonelessly].  It’s Nora.

[Kristine goes for the lock, but hesitates for a moment as if something has occurred to her…pause..After a deep breath, Kristine, unlocks the door and opens it.]

MRS. LINDE.  Nora!  Poor thing you look exhausted.  Do come in right away.

[Nora, with head down, strolls past Kristine and sits in the first chair she sees.]

MRS. LINDE.  Now what…
NORA.  Oh dear Kristine…I have left him.
MRS. LINDE.  Torvald?
NORA.  The man I presumed to be Torvald.
MRS. LINDE.  Nora, have you gone mad?
NORA.  Quite the opposite actually, I am seeing things now clearer than ever.  For years I was his pet, nothing more than a toy for him to play with.  For a time I dare say I was content to be so, but something has changed Kristine.  There has been a turn of events that any other day, I would have welcomed with open arms.  This time however, it only served to reveal the truth behind my marriage to HIM.
MRS. LINDE.  What turn of events Nora?
NORA.  Krogstad!
MRS. LINDE.  Krogstad…
NORA.  Yes, Krogstad.  He sent a letter, relieving us of my debt.  He said his “luck had changed” and even   returned my IOU.
MRS. LINDE.  Gracious.  It’s a miracle.  Is it not?
NORA.  It was not the miracle I was hoping for…[pauses]  I realized there would never, nor could there ever be love and honesty between us.  I could never love him.  I could never love myself and therefore, the children could never love me.
MRS. LINDE.  And what of the children?
NORA.  They will be fine with Anne Marie.  Oh dear Kristine, it pains me to leave them, but what good could I ever bring them?  I could only bring them sorrow.
MRS. LINDE.  But a mother’s duty is to her children.
NORA.  [Almost hissing] A mother’s duty.  A wife’s duty…A daughter’s duty… I’m finished being dutiful.  My father pledged my duty to him, then Torvald to him and now you bring up my duty as a mother.  How can I be so if I can’t be dutiful to myself?
MRS. LINDE.  Nora, I do believe you need to rest.  You’ve had quite a go of it.
NORA. [Composing herself] Yes, perhaps you’re right Kristine.  May I stay with you until I get things situated?
MRS. LINDE.  [pondering] Yes, you are welcome to stay the night… yet I regret to tell you I can not hold you up for any longer than that.  Do not think me rude Nora, it’s just…well…I have also had a change of events.
NORA.  Hmm?
MRS. LINDE.  You see Nora, my fortunes have also suddenly changed and things are more complicated.   I…we…thought it for the best, but I now see…
NORA.  But, I don’t understand.
MRS. LINDE.  I have ALSO had “a change of luck…”
NORA.  Krogstad!
MRS. LINDE.  Krogstad…
NORA.  But Kristine, how could you?  Oh…of all the things.  That swine.
MRS. LINDE.  You know of my struggles and how I long for a place in this world.  With Krogstad, I have purpose.  I intend to start over.  You can stay the night.  Forgive me if I seem crass, but I fear if you stay longer, Torvald will grow angry and relieve Krogstad of his position at the bank.  It would sink us for sure and I couldn’t bear the thought of it.
NORA.  Torvald will relieve Krogstad no matter what.
MRS. LINDE.  On the contrary, Nora.  After all, a deal is a deal and Torvald is an honest business man.  Remember what Krogstad has over Torvald.  Torvald will do anything to keep it from leaking.
NORA.  Unbelievable.  You came to me.  I pleaded with Torvald to get you a job.  That man ruined my life and now, here I am practically begging you.
MRS. LINDE.  And how does it feel?  It doesn’t feel good does it?  For years I had no one to love me.  I toiled around; a lonely and sorrowful woman.  Whatever want I had was replaced with need and eventually I was left to grovel.  When I came to you, I felt as though I had nothing left.  And even then, all you could think of was yourself.  Looking a poor, helpless woman in the face and harking out loud, how good it is to not have to worry about money.  How could you?  I ask that in return.
NORA.  [shocked]  I…I…
MRS. LINDE.  I met with Krogstad and through that meeting, you were relieved of your debt.  You were saved  Nora; yet it’s still not enough.  I’ve always known your self centered ways Nora.  You meant to write letters, you meant to hear my story when I arrived, but you never did.  I’ve always seen beyond these faults however and even tonight, I would have looked beyond them. However, I see now that even in your darkest hour; your darkest moment of despair, all you can still think about is yourself.  As of now,   you are no longer welcome.   I would like for you to leave.
NORA.  But Kristine…
MRS. LINDE.  BE GONE!

[Kristine’s door swings open and we find Krogstad entering.  Resting his cap and coat by the door, he turns with a surprised look at Nora, followed by a silent glance back at Kristine.]

MRS. LINDE.  Nora was just leaving.   [glancing back at Nora.]

[Nora looks silently back at Kristine, lets out a low whimper and runs past Krogstad into the cold night. Lights fade…]

THE END

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Civics on Saturday: The Constitution, Part III- Article II

Just as Article I of the Constitution establishes Congress and defined its role, Article II creates the Executive Branch of government and sets out some guidelines and parameters as to what functions the framers thought the president and vice president should serve.

Section I of the article creates the office of president and vice president and decrees that they shall serve four year terms, though there’s no mention of a limitation on how many four year terms they can serve. The question of term limitations wasn’t really considered until FDR ran for his third stay in the White House. He died during his fourth term, and Congress proposed the XXII (22nd) Amendment, which restricted the term of president to eight years (or ten if the president takes over for one who is assassinated or otherwise incapacitated.

The president and vice president are not chosen by popular vote – directly by the people – but rather by an electoral college. They are appointed by the individual states and their numbers are equal to the individual states’ legislative members. The assumption was made, when the Constitution was written, that the citizenry wouldn’t be able to make an informed decision about whom to elect for such an important office and, if we consider the difficulties in travel and communication in the 1780s, I can’t say I disagree with that assumption. I’m still not entirely sure I completely understand how the electoral college works; it’s something I’ll do a bit more research about when I have a little more time.

The actual procedure the electors used to name a president was modified by the XII (12th) Amendment in 1804, and provided separate balloting procedures for both the president and vice president – as best I can tell, there was some hullaballoo between Jefferson and Aaron Burr, and the House of Representatives had to decide between the tied candidates.

The Article also names the requirements for a person to be elected into the Executive offices: they must be a natural-born citizen (leaving the Governator out of the running) and must be at least 35 years old at the time of his or her election. JFK was 43 when he was elected into office, though Teddy Roosevelt was made president at 42 after McKinley was assassinated in 1901. The president also must have lived in the U.S. for 14 years. The article also decrees that the vice president shall be named president in the event of “removal…from office, …death, resignation or inability to discharge the powers and duties” on the part of the president.

The article lays out some of the jobs the president is expected to fulfill, as well: s/he has recess appointment powers, s/he is required to give “information of the state of the union” to Congress, s/he is tasked to “receive ambassadors and other public ministers,” and, most importantly, the president is required to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” The process of impeachment – of removing a president from office should the officer be charged with “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors – is also outlined in the Article.

I have to tell you how difficult it is for me to not comment on the current office holder. I recognize that’s not what this forum is for, however, so I’m exercising great restraint (especially when we got to the impeachment part).

This is an awful lot of information. Are your brains full yet?

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