Saturday, October 23, 2010

Deep Roots

Clearly I remember hearing the word "pedagogy" at least once during my final semesters as an undergraduate.

Never did I ever dream I'd be using it in every day conversation.

What does it mean?

Pedagogy is the study of being a teacher or the process of teaching.

The term generally refers to strategies of instruction, or a style of instruction.

I am taking two classes that deal specifically with various theories and ways of teach (composition and creative writing). *Whew*

A lot of my day has been spent reading a book about Grading--the theory and practice of it. Thus far I've learned about the origins and evolution of grading student writing at the college level in America.

During colonial times, college students did not receive grades of any sort. They were evaluated at the end of their years of study with a oral examination that certified a level of intellectual and moral righteousness worthy of a college graduate.

I can't help but imagine that scene from Babe with "the boss" tells our hero, "That'll do pig, that'll do."

Then there came the written exam in the 1830s...Yale and Harvard had a ranking system by numbers and points (1-4) expanding to 20 points and 100 points (students like cars).

Fifty years later we had Freshman Composition classes as a fundamental part of the general education (at Harvard) and numerical ranking became based on five letter grades (A-E).

I will stop there.

So with a swim-my head, filled with all this information and ideas to consider...I will finish a syllabus for my creative writing class (I "made" a poetry writing class)...and instead of being rooted in academia tonight, I will be firmly planted in downtown Milledgeville.

Music STAGE!


Monday, October 18, 2010


[from German Hexe, witch. from Middle High German hecse. from Old High German hagzissa.]

Why exactly do I have a strange affinity for pumpkins?

I really don't know.

It may have started circa 1986...

That's when I think I saw Return to Oz for the first time.

Still living in West Berlin, my best friend and I would reenact the movie when we were playing outside. We'd take turns being Dorothy or Ozma, hiding from Mombi and doing our best to appease The Nome King.

Then there was Jack Pumpkinhead, our loyal friend. As you may have guessed, he was a pumpkin head with a scarecrow-type body. (Mystery solved?)

Since then, I have imaged all pumpkins as nice, friendly, loyal, and amazing. This makes me a bit delusional, I know. What can I say? Putting a blanket personality on all gourds (albeit, inanimate objects)...WAIT! They are living...

And Linus has The Great Pumpkin. Sure, that's an example from a cartoon strip. BUT everyone loves Charles Schultz!

I'd go Pumpkin Caroling with Linus any day, week, month of the year. Pumpkins bring good tidings and if waiting in a pumpkin patch for him to arrive is what I have to do...point me in the direction of the nearest patch.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Little Stars--

(take him and cut him out in little stars
and he will make the face of heaven so fine...)

I'm easily entertained--I love going to and clicking on the "manage my rewards" button.

I get to watch 13 little animated gold stars fall into a coffee cup.

They fall in different patterns even--I may even imagine the noise they make...

These stars represent the 13 times I've used my gift card over the last couple years.

Despite the love I have for coffee, I don't frequent SBUX nearly enough. I still have 17 more visits before I reach the GOLD level. (I know, you can read)

All of you who have given me gift cards over the last few years--THIS is what you've created. A girl who likes to watch imaginary stars fill her imaginary coffee cup.

In other news, I've survived another week of graduate school. For those of you counting at home, that makes NINE weeks. There are seven more left in the semester. I've passed the halfway point.

It's like a speeding train, really. I'm doing my best to hang on.

I saw The Social Network this past week. Also I attended another reading by classmates at a local coffee shop.

So my entertainment has been varied. Movies, readings, watching little gold stars falling into a coffee cup.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Just Breathe...

(a partial list of my undergraduate work)

Even though I stayed "an extra" day in Memphis, I only spent a few hours outside of the house, not including time spent reading on the back porch.

(I did manage to cry when I found "Walking in Memphis" on the radio while out and about)

I've gathered another "box load" of books to carry to Milledgeville, figures.

While going through paperwork in my office, I found a notebook from my last semester as an undergraduate. That's where the photo up there came from...

Did those classes get me ready for these classes? Apparently they did on paper.

I've been scanning enough Composition Theory to make a normal person's eyes bleed, but I know the work for that class is far from over.

Then I was constructing a "fake" syllabus for an imaginary class (Teaching Creative Writing) and I have a feeling I've gone overboard. WAY overboard. I need to reel it in. I have essentially combined two classes (Poetry Writing + Forms of Poetry) from my own undergraduate career--focusing on the one class I shouldn't be focusing on even.

Lest not forget the other work I need to worry about...there should be a graduate seminar on time management, plain and simple. And mandatory "chill pills."

Thankfully the belly full of home cookin' (German food) helps right now.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Home Again!

Does it surprise anyone that the first place I "visited" after coming home for break was a bookstore?

& I don't mean a chain bookstore or bookseller.

Of course, I went relatively early on Friday morning--because I got in late on Thursday night.

(but really, I went to the bank to deposit my very first grad school pay check FIRST)

So I was outside the main library...breathing in the October Memphis air, basking in the glorious sunshine, and getting a large tote bag out of the trunk of my car--

Finally I wandered through the doors and into the corner on the first floor where my most favorite used bookstore is located.

I thought about all the authors and titles I had heard mentioned in class or by my classmates. I was ready to scan shelves and browse 'til my heart burst with happiness.

And I did.

Somehow I ended up with two first edition E.L. Doctorow hardbacks. He is coming to campus as part of the Flannery O'Connor conference in April.

There was another first edition by Edward P. Jones I found, he will be at AWP in February.

(apparently I've become a name-dropper)

Annie Proulx, Tobias Wolff, T.C. Boyle, Anne Lamott, Carson McCullars...

The books I found were amazing. More Ian McEwan and Sylvia Plath. I grabbed the complete poetry collection of Dorothy Parker and a memoir by Augusten Burroughs. PLUS more.

After my book buying extravaganza, I called a former classmate (friend) and we met for lunch at Fino's.

This is where I had a great conversation with the new owner. We've had a running conversation on Facebook & he knew I was coming into town and would be circling his deli like a starving buzzard.

Conversations and Realizations. It's been a wonderful trip. A jarring but welcomed step back into the "outside" of grad school world.

I'm even staying any extra day.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Strange Bedfellow, Strange

I've found my self snugglin' up to a lot
In the form of books
& papers
& handouts
& submissions

The other night I fell asleep with Raymond Carver. He was telling me stories and the next thing I knew I was face down with a trail of drool connecting me to my pillow.

Usually it's handouts though...pedagogical nuggets of wisdom that may be seeping into my brain by osmosis. Teaching theories from two separate classes, even. Whew!

(There is a binder labeled "Composition Theory" always on the corner of my bed.)

I haven't been able to spend too much time (or practically any time) with my canon of favorites though, F. Scott...THIS MEANS YOU! But really, the idea of "reading for pleasure" doesn't seem to exist anymore for me.

(I know classmates who still find time though.)

This weekend there was a new addition to my...snugglin' circle. Twenty-eight new additions to be exact. I'm getting around...but one of the honors of being a first-year MFA student means I get to read for the (undergraduate) Margaret Harvin Wilson writing award.

(Practice for grading papers next year, I suppose. Another "thing" for the curriculum vitae.)

I wonder if my brain resembles this ever-present pile of papers I chose to surround myself stacks and stacks of pages filled with XX years of words and thoughts.

Is that the visual we have of Derrida's idea that Writing came before Speech?

Think of the "writing" that occurs when you are burning a CD. Now think of your brain as the biggest CD you can ever imagine...always working, always being written upon.

See. Writing before Speech. I think I picked that up via osmosis, it sounds vaguely (very) familiar to a concept discussed in class and I slept with that handout too.



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