So much for posting here every week. Maybe I should set my sights lower — say, once a month (instead of once a year).
It’s been a busy term. Last night the class I TA for had its midterm and we handed back the first batch of papers. We’ve got a wide range of abilities in this class. I truly feel for the students who struggle with the material but don’t quite get it. It’s not easy material, and the professor’s approach to it isn’t straightforward — he demands critical thought from the students, and some of them just don’t have the tools for it, even though they’re willing to make a go if it with what they do have. I’d give them all As for effort if I could.
On the other hand, the students who take every opportunity to gripe and whinge and take potshots at the class/subject matter/professor, spend the entire lecture period instant messaging their friends, or don’t listen when the professor clearly says read the syllabus carefully because it contains everything you need to know to succeed in this class and then want to know why they’re not doing well get no sympathy from me. It astounds me that, out of 60 or so students, about 1/4 of them didn’t turn in a paper. I don’t mean the ones who e-mailed to ask for an extension, but those who just couldn’t be bothered. What I find even more amazing is that a few of them still had the gumption to show up for class. I would be ashamed to show my face if I hadn’t done an assignment that counted for 20% of the final grade. Do they not understand that a low grade is better than a zero? Do they expect to be graced with a freebie in the 11th hour?
As for my own work, that is going along. I enjoy both classes, though I occasionally get confused when some of the lines cross (I found myself blathering about sodomy prosecutions in 15th-century Venice the other week because I’d momentarily forgotten what seminar I was in). The one disappointment I’m facing is that I don’t think I’ll be able to write my term paper as I’d originally envisioned it; while the topic appeals to me, the amount of work it would require is more appropriate for a thesis than a term paper. So now I need to put together another proposal within the next week so I can get it approved and move forward.
The less said about my son’s schooling, the better. Well, not necessarily. He’s struggling in his accelerated math class, to the point that we’d both started talking about pulling him out of it, but I went to the Open House last weekend and came away from it feeling much more confident. So now I’m trying to get him to think positively about it. We’ll see how that goes. As for his other classes, I don’t look forward to getting his report card. It’s one thing to flunk a class for not understanding the material; to flunk it because you can’t be bothered to do the work/turn in the work/put your name on the work is not my idea of a good excuse. There will be whips a’crackin’ if he doesn’t get his act together.
On the thesis front, not much to talk about. I ILL’d a copy of Churches in the Landscape by Richard Morris and (provided I can work up the courage) would like to e-mail him after I’ve read it to discuss some of the ideas I have, and see if he can suggest avenues for further research. More importantly, though, I need to go through whatever primary sources I can get my hands on and see if there’s enough evidence to build my argument on. The more prepared I can be before we go to Europe next summer (Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise), the more productive the trip itself will be.