What I Hope My Students Got

So here is what I put in my Canvas for today, the last day of classes at Northeastern University:

Week 14 Overview

To-Do Date: Apr 19 at 11:59pm


Welcome to Week 14.  This semester, you learned a lot of things. Some of it I might even have taught you. Some of it your peers taught you. Some, you taught yourself. That is pretty much how life works.

Learning Objectives

What I hope you got from this class:

* We write alone, but we can’t only write alone.

* The world wants to tell you what to think, and sometimes that is a helpful shortcut, but when it isn’t helpful, you don’t have to let it.

* Writing can be hard, frustrating, and boring, but it doesn’t have to be.

* You are not always in control of your writing tasks (assignments, audiences, etc.) but you are in control of your writing process.

* Don’t write to make enemies or to change anyone’s entrenched ideas. Write to make allies.

* Write to make the world a better place. You might have to make yourself a better person first. The work is worth doing.

* Much of what you got through your education will prove useful. Reject anything that doesn’t help you repair the world.

* Who you are will always inform your writing, but you are in control of which bits to put in and which to leave out.

* We are firmly integrated in the material world, for better and for worse. We can try to make it more better and less worse.

* Thinking about the language you use, and being more intentional about choosing words and guiding metaphors, will improve your precision and persuasiveness.

* Also, ethos, pathos, logos and kairos, because those old Greek guys were hella smart.

*AND FINALLY, sometimes you just have to go into your back yard and spit.* But then put your mask back on.

*This is referencing David Huddle’s amazing essay, “Let’s Say You Wrote Badly This Morning.” 10/10. Highly recommend.

Technology Makes Life Easier: NOT

So there I was in my little office at Northeastern University, lamenting the extreme oldness of my shared computer and how it takes roughly ten minutes just to boot up. And the following day I was in my little office at MIT, lamenting…you get the picture. English departments are pretty much by definition never the first to get the fresh fruit of the technological boom that is the twenty-first century, alas.

And then, hooray hooray! I find out that we are getting brand spanking new (as opposed to second hand from a fancier department) computers at MIT! Woohoo!

Except it’s never that easy. The New Mike from IT (as opposed to the Old Mike from IT—I think it’s like how all barbers are named Bud) came in and switched the computers and set my mail up and all that stuff back on Monday and I come in on Wednesday and I can no longer access anything that I was accessing on Monday: not my mail, not the Writing Center online scheduler, not Safari (btw, yuck; I much prefer Firefox as it has a much, much better bookmarking system, etc.).

I can still use Word, thank the gods, but that is pretty much it. And I can drink my Protein Zone shake/smoothie thing because, again thank the gods, breakfast still isn’t computerized.

Not yet.

Busy, Busy, Busy

boynton chickens

Well, the S word is almost over and then the F word will be upon us, so I was at Northeastern University today, moving all my books and other stuff from my old office to a new office. I will be in a chicken coop with half the space and twice to three times as many more chickens, hoorah. (Yes, that is sarcasm.) Also I will be going from a situation where the computer : user ratio will go from 1:1 possibly down to 1:3.

And I finally remembered to get my dress shirts from the laundromat, so now it is “simply” a matter of updating my syllabus and the Blackboard site to be ready for my students. And let my students know about the pre-semester essay they have to write. And probably a bunch of things I won’t remember until after the first day of classes, even though I have plenty of time.

Nobody here but us chickens.