August 2008

…when education students are required to have fingerprint background checks in order to do internships in local school districts.

I say that not so much as an indictment against school districts, who surely have the best interest of their students in mind. Locally, districts are probably worried about incidents like the Jon White molestation scandal in Urbana, IL, among other possibilities.

But of course it trickles down: now I, a relatively impoverished (and definitely heavily indebted) college student, am forced to pay $35 that I can’t really afford in order to prove that I have no criminal background so that I can complete the requirements for my degree. I can’t really expect school districts to pay for it, since 1) they have other things to pay for (although it would be a good investment in the future of education) and 2) which school district should have the responsibility of paying for a student when that student will likely have internships at several different schools over the course of the program? So this is the best of a number of less than ideal outcomes.

Of course, I’ll suck it up and do it, just like I have for the IL state tests, because $35 isn’t enough to stand between me and my vocation of choice (if I can be permitted that somewhat oxymoronic statement).

On the other hand, it is a little disconcerting that the fine print on the authorization form requires me to approve the transmission of this information to the Illinois State Police and the FBI. (Although this could make for an interesting real-life connection when I teach 1984 in the spring…)

Quick and dirty, in numbered list:

  1. I’m absolutely exhausted. Wiped out. Insert other “tired” synonyms here; I don’t have the energy to think of any more (or even go for a thesaurus).
  2. My classes this semester seem manageable so far. The one class I fully expect to struggle with is my third (and thankfully last) semester of Spanish, which is taught by a very talented professor…who also happens to have a thick accent and speaks so rapidly that it’s often difficult to catch everything he says, let alone comprehend it. If I make it through this class, I expect to be able to communicate in a practical situation.
  3. I’m actually quite excited about the opportunities I will have for teaching this semester. My cooperating professor for CWRR (see here) is doing an excellent job of making connections between that course and the Classical Traditions course I’m also taking with her. I’m also thoroughly excited about the work I’ll be doing in preparation for student teaching, one for a Teacher Work Sample I’ll need to complete (which will include a unit to teach) and the other for another unit I’ll be teaching. (Of course, I might be less enthusiastic when it comes down to hammering them out. We’ll see.)
  4. Last point: The honors CWRR class today was interesting to observe. Being freshmen coming out of the school’s exhaustive (and exhausting) First Week, they were somewhat distracted and very intimidated. Still, they seemed like they could be a lively bunch, and it will be interesting to see how they expand from personal writing to personal research (interviewing) to professional research (research paper). I don’t know what to expect thus far, but I think it will be a rewarding experience in the long run.

That’s day one – we’ll see how things come together tomorrow.

The semester starts today for me, and it should prove to be a daunting one: 18 credit hours, plus a writing internship in an honors freshman comp (CWRR – Critical Writing, Reading, and Research) class. Because this semester is a mad rush to get all of my required courses before student teaching this spring. (Tuesdays for me are the worst: a straight run from 9:30 to 7:30 with only 10-15 minutes between classes. It will be interesting, to say the very least.)

Blogging has been sporadic here, but I intend to correct that, at least over here. (The Christian Cynic may see less writing simply because my focus this semester is teaching.) Since I’ll be doing quite a bit of teaching, both as a TA for the writing course and in the middle school and high school classrooms where I’ll be doing my student teaching, I need to start forming good reflective habits, and that’s what this blog is about.

Right now, this blog is a good opportunity to reflect on a question that will be posed in today’s CWRR class: the difference between an oral and literate/written culture. This blog would have no purpose in an oral culture, obviously, and doesn’t that leave a gap? Isn’t there a sense in which these thoughts and reflections would be irretrievably lost because they would be left to memory, and memory might not esteem them high enough to keep among the host of other things that have priority? I think this is likely the case, and it is interesting to me that writings like this from ancient times did make into writing even when the cultures themselves were primarily oral – despite Plato’s musing in the Phaedrus, writing has been a great medicine (pharmakon) for curing a lot of what ails the creativity of man, and I think reflective writing is a perfect example.

How do you think writing brings significant advances (or maybe even obstacles)?