Daily Archives: September 28, 2006

“She’s a super-geek! Super-geek! She’s super-geeky, YEOW!!”

Rick James got nothin’ on me!

I went into my local Barnes & Nobel to buy a gift certificate for Organic Mama‘s younger daughter’s birthday present. It’s important that you understand that my ONLY intention was to walk out with the gift certificate.

I should know better by now.

Fifty-some-odd dollars later, I walk out with three grammar books and the wonderful collection you see to the left. B&N has come up with a series of university-level courses on CD on an AMAZING range of subjects; the inside cover of the book that came with the series lists 25 different titles in 6 different areas of concentration. Seriously; one can get anything from how men and women communicate to the Treaty of Versailles to appreciating classical music to the gem *I* picked up, “What a Piece of Work is Man.”

The set comes with eight CDs upon which a professor – in this case, Harold Bloom of Yale and Harvard – expounds upon the subject at hand – in this case, seven selected Shakespearean tragedies. The set is intended to reflect the lecture series of an entire university class, and I have to say (having taken more than my share of university classes) that they’ve done a pretty good job. The box I have – I can’t speak with any authority about what’s in the others – also contains a book with the transcribed lectures, study questions, suggested reading and useful websites. From what I’ve seen and heard thus far, it’s remarkable. A concise, inclusive, intelligent and well delivered course on the Bard’s tragic works.

I’ve been listening to the lecture on Hamlet in my car as I’ve completed the various errands of my day, and I have to say that I’m very, very pleased with the purchase (there’s a fair bit of alliteration in this post, isn’t there? I assure you, it’s not intentional). And one can’t beat the price. As an undergrad, I paid upwards of $1300 for the Shakespeare course I took in the summer of ’95. While no one is going to offer a student credit for listening to lectures on CD, if the goal is more about what’s in your head than what’s on your transcript, you can’t beat a college-level course for less than 40 bucks.

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Getting Ready

I’ve been thinking about my Foundations of English class today. I haven’t actually met with the students yet – our first class was supposed to be last Monday, but was taken up with the placement exam that most of the students should have already taken at that point. I’ve got five weeks to get through sentence structures, to cover the eight parts of speech, and to work on their writing skills and reading comprehension.

Since I won’t have access to the actual tests they took – and the college made an error by not administering the essay portion of the exam to this batch of incoming freshmen, so I don’t have that as a guide to what the kids know or don’t know – I’m going to run the first class pretty much on the fly. I’m going to start off by emailing the class as a whole tonight and asking them to come to our first meeting on Monday having read the first chapter of their text and with a short essay telling me five things I should know about them. I’m going to need an idea of where we are as a whole before I can really dive in and work on what the students really don’t know. I’m going to run on the (slightly pessimistic) assumption that they don’t know a whole lot. I figure, that way, I won’t be disappointed.

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