Monday, August 20, 2012

A new semester!

Today we met for the new semester and it looks like a good group for this round! I am looking forward to the egg posts!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Attitude adjustment and fear

It really is about attitude. Last week I had the worst class I have ever had because I got confused about a due date. I had nothing prepared for class because the students were to present their projects. But then some students told me they thought it was due the following week, and when I checked, I forgot that the actual "due date" included time for them to reflect on the presentations. I got confused and also then thought the presentations were really supposed to be the next week... So I found myself confused and completely unprepared for class. I was embarrassed, enraged, and ultimately depressed. But then I realized that I had just encountered one of my greatest fears: public embarrassment and losing control of a class.

My dreams last night helped me realize that I needed to experience that. Fear is powerful. When you are confronted with a fear it makes you feel vulnerable and out of control, which is very uncomfortable. We tend to avoid things that make us uncomfortable. It is also human nature to want to blame these feelings on other people. Last week I felt as though I had been used and was not appreciated, but when I look at the situation objectively I can see that it is an opportunity for me to grow. It was not the students' fault, it was mine.

Apparently I needed this incident to help me see that this assignment is WAY too confusing the way it is written. I will revise it in the future. If the person who created the assignment can't keep it straight, then how the hell can students be expected to understand what is expected?

Also, I needed to be reminded that I am human. When some students rolled their eyes and it was obvious from their body language that they were frustrated, I took it personally. It hurt my feelings and made me both angry and very sad. I knew I had let these people down, and in my position, that is not an "OK" thing to do. The fact that I cared so much about that student's reaction was a huge wake up call that told me that I really DO care what others think of me, or at least of my classes.

As a result of what happened in class, I honestly did reach a point last week where I did not care what ANYONE thought of ANYTHING, and it was a dismal feeling. In the light of my new lessons, I realize I do care what others think, to a certain extent. I do seek some approval and validation that my contributions are worth something. Part of what led me to this conclusion was the dialogue created here on FB when I posted my feelings. I had not intended to have any replies, but the outpouring of support I got really caught my attention. I appreciated being appreciated, and didn't even know I needed that validation. And that, too, is a very human way to feel. And since I am, indeed, having a human experience, I need to allow myself to BE human sometimes. Warts and all, so to speak.

I would honestly rather feel connected and valued, even if that means worrying about what people think of some of my thoughts and actions than to feel resentful and bitter. The trick is to find the balance between independent thought and attitude and interdependent support for and from your fellow humans. So my screw up last week turned into a huge growth spurt for me personally, and most likely professionally.

See? What a difference your attitude can make!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Do you stop to enjoy during your day?

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

-- from "Leisure," by W.H. Davies

Pearls Before Breakfast

Can one of the nation's great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let's find out.

By Gene Weingarten
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 8, 2007

HE EMERGED FROM THE METRO AT THE L'ENFANT PLAZA STATION AND POSITIONED HIMSELF AGAINST A WALL BESIDE A TRASH BASKET. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play.

Finish the article here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

How to "read" a book...

Instead of meeting in person this week or next (January 30 or February 6) due to issues with transportation related to the Super Bowl, you have a virtual assignment. This is your first assignment. It is due next Monday, February 6 at noon. I will post the next assignment next week. It will be due on noon when we meet again on February 13.

Do these exercises and answer each and every question included in this assignment on your blog. Upload the URL to your blog entry (or entries) here to receive your points.

Go to a library, bookstore, or your own book collection and look through the books. Please do not read any. Just pay attention to what catches your eye.
• What is it that stands out to you?
• Why?
Choose a red book and open it to page 6. Close your eyes and put your finger on the page somewhere.
• What did you find?
• If your finger landed on a paragraph, how many times does the letter P show up in that paragraph?
• If it landed on a picture, how many straight lines are in the picture?
• If it landed on white space, what is the white space surrounding?
• Can you imagine the white space as a sea and the other parts (words, pictures, etc.) as islands floating in white water or space?
Using your other senses, explain what the paper feels like.
• Is it slick or rough?
• What does the cover feel like?
• Can you feel the ink of the words if you close your eyes?
• Do different colors feel different with your eyes closed?
• What else can you discover about the paper?
• What about the cover?
Without destroying the book, unless you own it and want to, see if you can figure out how the book was constructed.
• Is it stitched?
• Is it glued?
• Is there any cloth on this book or is it all paper?
• Is it a hardback or paperback?
• Does it have signatures? (Hint: you may need to look up what signatures are in the context of making books…)
• If it has signatures, how many pages are in each and how many signatures are there in the whole book?
• If it does not, look at the glue on the ends of the spine and discribe what you see.
Flip through the pages and look at the end papers.
• Is there any writing in the book, other than the printing?
• If so, what does it say?
• Why is it there?
• Who wrote it?
• If you do not know, then imagine who might have written it.
• If there is no writing in the book then how does it make you feel to know you are the first person (possibly) to think about it?
Examine the book more.
• Are there any stains on the book?
• Are there any fingerprints?
• What do they look like?
• How might they have happened?
Look at the pages of the book.
• What is the color of the pages? I bet they are not really white.
• How would you describe the color? Is it warm or cold? Bright or dull, etc.
• What other visual things can you explore with the book?
Think about the history of this book.
• Can you see any other evidence that someone else has handled this book?
• What are the edges of the pages like? Describe them.
• Can you imagine what someone else might have been thinking as they read this book?
• Do you think anyone else has used this book like you are right now instead of reading it?
Flip through the pages quickly.
• Can you hear the sound? If so, describe it.
• If not, what is your experience like?
• Can you feel the breeze?
• Can you move something with the wind generated from the book?
• Could you use this book to win a game you created using the book's wind power?
Drop the book on the floor.
• What did you experience?
• Did you sense the vibrations the book made?
• Did you feel it in your feet?
• Take your shoes off. Now drop the book. Was there any difference?
Hold the book between your hands with one hand on each cover and the book closed. Close your eyes.
• Is the book cold? Hold it like that for at least one minute.
• Now feel the cover. Can you feel the temperature change from where your hands were to where they were not?
• Have you ever been aware of this before when you were holding a book to read it?
• If your heat transfers in this situation and you noticed it because I asked you to, why do you think you have never noticed it before?
• If you have noticed the temperature of a book you were holding before, describe why you noticed it.
Smell the book.
• What does the smell make you think of?
• If you can't think of anything, describe the smells you can sense. (Interesting fact: Did you know that I have friends [many librarians, actually] who choose their books partly based on how they smell? Honestly.)
I do not recommend tasting the book for health and safety issues… :-)

Now, finally, read the first page. If it is just pictures, read the story of the pictures.
• What is the title of this book?
• Based on the first page, explain why you think the book was titled that.
Reflect back on this entire exericise.
• What is your experience like with the book now that you have experienced it differently?
• Do you still find books to be boring, assuming you did in the first place?
• What, if anything has changed for you in regards to books?
Now think about this class.
• How did I "fishbowl" this assignment?
• What do you think the point is of this exercise?
• What can you take from this exercise that might help you with future projects?

Monday, January 23, 2012


(from notes on the board in class today)

too many choices = dissatisfaction with choice because you could have chosen something better = "I am not creative" because it did not turn out as well as another choice might have = you play it safe next time = always playing it safe leads to burnout = burnout breeds apathy = apathy can become pervasive and lead to dissatisfaction with everything

If you employ the "fishbowl" technique you can use limitations and parameters to cut down the choices and help you better achieve goals that lead to personal satisfaction.

Fishbowling is an iterative process that includes permutations of the following ideas (in no particular order:)
  • experiment
  • look for connections and familiarity
  • define a goal
  • procrastinate
  • doodle around until you find an idea
  • look for interesting ways to achieve goal
  • have a due date
  • make a statement
  • get a reaction
  • time limit on project
  • safety
  • research
  • know yourself and how you work
  • necessity
  • solve a problem
  • if Beth lets us do it or not!
  • limitations

Freedom or slavery?

Thursday, January 19, 2012