Daily Archives: August 25, 2007

The Hits Just Keep On Comin’…

As part of their mid-term exam, my communication students were given a copy of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech and were asked to answer five essay questions about it.  I emailed them after the class in which they received this assignment, reminding them of the questions, directing them to a video link to the speech, and asking them to:

Please be sure that your answers are typed and grammatically clean (full sentences, capital letters where needed; in short, try not to make the same errors I was complaining about on Tuesday).  Your answers must be complete and comprehensive: don’t just phone this assignment in, please – really THINK about what I’m asking you, read and listen to the speech more than once, and give me responses that show evidence of complex thinking.  Wow me with how brilliant you are. 

The first question asks:

Why is Dr. King’s speech so powerful and such an effective piece of persuasion?  Do you think that time has any impact, positive or negative, on the effectiveness of the speech?  Explain. 

Here’s a real, live answer I got to this question:

He uses history a as crutch, and the history of segregation and the pursuit of black people.


Sometimes, it’s hard NOT to be despondent….


Filed under concerns, frustrations, General Griping, Grammar, Yikes!

Civics on Saturday

I’m thinking of starting a new weekly feature on this blog.

A few weeks ago, I asked Gerry – formerly a serviceman and attorney; currently an observant intellect whose experience and insight I greatly respect – if he would be interested in teaching me about the Constitution.

You see, every time I teach a public speaking / communication class, I give the students a quick rundown of the First Amendment.  It is not unreasonable of me to expect that none – NONE – of the students will recognize the thing when I put it up on the board and, further, that none – NONE – of them will be able to tell me exactly what the amendment actually does.  I then go around, for several days, feeling depressed by how little students leave high school knowing, and fearing for the future of our country that the next generations aren’t learning about the very foundations of our society.

Then, it occurred to me: I have a passing familiarity with the founding documents of our country, but I am by no means an expert.  Being the proactive and inquisitive sort that I am, I started looking for ways to remedy that.  I think that there are some things that every American should know, and a solid background in the Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution and its subsequent amendments is an integral part of that knowledge base.

Gerry declined my request of tutelage; he told me that he’d be bored with the exercise, and we all know that bored teachers make for bored students.  I respect his not wanting to go over this stuff with me, but I still want to know, so I’ve decided to do the investigation on my own.

Starting next Saturday, I’m going to begin a series here where I’ll take a section of one of the foundational documents and do what I do best – I’ll analyze it, I’ll ask questions about it, I’ll try to think critically about it.  I’m going to start with the Declaration of Independence which, really, should be the focus of only one entry: the D.o.I. isn’t really that long or complex, and I had the opportunity to think about it this summer when the Chili family went to Colonial Williamsburg, so I’ve got a bit of a ‘head start.’

I’ll print the text of the document I’m investigating in the post, I’ll link to reputable websites and text references concerning it, and I’ll try my best not to correct our founding fathers’ grammar.  I’ll ruminate a bit on it, try to dig up interesting facts and stories about it, and try to integrate it into my own knowledge base.

Here’s where I invite you to come on this ride with me, and to please, PLEASE correct me if I come up with something blatantly wrong.  I’m a novice to Constitutional scholarship, and I invite those of you who know more than I do to add your thoughts, experiences and insights to my journey.


(I’m going to post simultaneously to both my “teacher” and “personal” blogs – I think that this topic applies both to my personal and my professional lives, and I don’t want to miss out on the insights and comments of those who only read one or the other.  If you read both, I apologize for the redundancy; it’s only once a week.)


Filed under crossover, Learning, Questions, reading, self-analysis