December 2009


This is probably going to seem pretty last minute – it is – but I have a request for any of my readers with even a passing knowledge of nonfiction materials.

I’m planning a nonfiction unit for my seniors next semester on civil disobedience and nonviolent protest. I hope to build in some texts that they should have had last year as juniors but didn’t, such as Thoreau’s “Resistance to Civil Government” (more commonly known as “Civil Disobedience”) and King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail (which I generally teach with Thoreau, anyway), but I need some suggestions for other texts. Critical texts are fine – it will be good practice for students to look through more scholarly works – as are other primary texts. I’m already thinking about Gandhi’s Non-Violent Resistance (although I have to find it and make copies of some sections) and a critical text called Civil Disobedience in Focus by Hugo A. Bedau (of which I will likely only use the introduction as a primer of sorts). This is not enough, however; the unit will last approximately 3-4 weeks, if I can sustain it, so that I can use these texts to teach research skills such as notetaking, paraphrasing, summarizing, citing sources, etc.

So, faithful readers, I need your help. I need any works that are either reasonably short or that can be excerpted (so as not to overwhelm my students at the beginning of their last semester of high school) that have to do at all with civil disobedience,  nonviolent resistance, or nonviolent protest. Of particular interest would be information about the Civil Rights Movement (including the Montgomery bus boycott), the satyagraha movements in India and South Africa, American protests over the Vietnam War, Chinese protests in Tiananmen Square, and even contemporary American protests over issues like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Republican National Convention protest in 2004. I’m also not limited by medium; I’ll take hypertexts as well as any links to print sources. If you’ve got a PDF version (especially for any journal articles – I’m very limited in that regard) that you can share (this is all fair use, remember), feel free to E-mail me – docereestdiscere AT SIGN gmail PERIOD com. I will be incredibly grateful for any help any of you can offer.

Thanks again, readers – looking forward to more great conversations in the Ten! (2010, that is.)

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One of my friends on Facebook is a college professor at my alma mater who is in her second year of post-graduate teaching at the university; although I never had her for a class, she and I discussed doing some work together for a digital rhetoric/new media article she wanted to submit to an online journal because I had experience with PHP/MySQL coding (the collaboration never happened, sadly).

Her status was about having just taken a look at online evaluations, which the university just switched to this year, and being depressed at the negative feedback. Being a fairly new teacher as well, I know how it is to get negative feedback and how frustrating it can be, but I shared some advice with her about how I’ve learned to handle feedback in general, and I’d like to share that with you as well.

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Our last day of school before Christmas break has just started a few minutes ago, and I am feeling pretty good. As of this moment, I’ve graded all of the exams I’ve given – only two, unfortunately, although the non-exam equivalent in another class (a persuasive speech) has been graded in full as well – and I have this hour, which is my normal prep period, to do several things: get my room more organized, think about what I’ll teach when we come back from break in early January, and – of course – reflect.*

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You might even say it was a case in which I did actually learn my lesson.

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Or, You think I’d learn, Pt. 2.

Okay, forget the self-deprecating title of this post: I don’t think I’m stupid, but I sometimes wonder why I just don’t seem to learn. I even have a visualization for the sort of philosophy I have on teaching and learning:

Old experiences and ideas + New data and information = New understanding of the world Transforming self and external reality

Yet, when it comes to stuff that works, I don’t seem to have mastered the idea of thinking back to my best lessons and reflecting as such: Self? [Yes?] You remember that lesson that went really well? [Yeah, it was awesome; you–er, we rocked it in the class.] Well, maybe I should try that again. If it works one time, then maybe it might fit here, don’t you think? [That’s a great idea! Go you! Er, us!]

Case in point: today.

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2mm, but still no funThus is my life currently. Well, now more especially than normal.

Despite the fact that I generally don’t have exciting weekends as a married man and teacher, this weekend was exceptionally thrilling. I ended up at the doctor on Saturday for pain in…well, we won’t go there. Let’s just say it was an exceptionally sensitive spot. I had to go from there to the hospital and eventually the ER.

And the trend continued on Sunday, when an early morning bout of severe lower back pain sent me back to the doctor…and the hospital…and the ER again, to find out that the likely ultimate cause of all of my misery was a 2mm kidney stone. (See the photo for an idea, although seeing one is nothing like having one inside one of your ureters.)

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