07 September 2007

Freshmen can understand dialectic

Yesterday's classes were great; I really do have two good groups this year.

I did kick myself after 11:00 class for trying to railroad them into the same discussion that 8:00 had. It's a bad habit of mine, and I think I might be in the process of breaking the habit for some time still. All the same, they had read carefully enough that they pretty much took the discussion and ran with it. Like David in my Hebrew Bible classes, Socrates is always a conflicted figure, and some of my students loved him, and some of my students hated him.

One thing I did differently this year was actually to teach the dialectic form early on in the dialogue. We traced the brief exchange between Socrates and Simonides in terms of assertion and negation, and then we spent the bulk of the Plato-talk on the exchange between Thrasymachus and Socrates, noting the increasing length of each negation. Again, some students thought that such a method was great pedagogically and philosophically, and others wished that old Socrates would just get to the point. That's alright; there's more to come, and they'll get better at reading it, even if they never come to like it.

With regards to writing matters, I did an Open Document Presentation on hourglass structure and on internal organization within a paper. The former part people got pretty well, but I'm going to follow up on the former with a fuller presentation Tuesday on induction, deduction, and causality. With the talented group I've got, I imagine they'll do well on this first full-length paper. Some of them are already anxiety-ridden about it, but those are always the ones who work their tails off and end up learning how to write, so I'm not worried.

Our little book group is digging into Vonnegut's Mother Night, and already I'm hooked. Vonnegut is one of those novelists who at once says intelligent things and also makes me want to see what's on the next page. I dig that.

And although I was too busy to watch all of it, I was pleased to read that the Colts' defense, minus Cato June and Jason David and Booger McFarland and Corey Simon, still managed to hold Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister, and crew to ten points last night, and I was pleased again to see that even without Tarik Glen guarding his blindside, Peyton Manning threw for three touchdowns to his faithful receivers, and I was pleased once more that Joseph Addai had a killer game as a starter. I don't expect that they'll be able to play at this level the whole season (they always slump; last year they were just smart enough to do so at the end of the regular season), but I do enjoy when they play this way.

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