Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A First Day Primer in List Form

The good things that happened on the first day of the college semester:

--Got a righteously good parking place, despite coming in earlier than usual (and thus closer to the height of the student population on campus).
--Found an open copy machine on the first try and got four tunes and a set of syllabi copied in about half an hour (never mind the fact that the syllabus was for the wrong combo and one of the tunes was missing a page of a drum part; I blame that on the lady who came up and asked me how much longer I was going to be on the machine).
--We were only missing one person in combo, and his part (piano) could be covered by others (two guitars).
--Thanks to my "sabbatical" from big band, I got to finish the working part of the day at 5:00. That's barely a nine-and-a-half-hour day (I'm such a slacker!).

The not-so-good things that happened on the first day:

--I missed one of my before-school beginners because there was a last-minute faculty meeting and he got locked out of the band hall.
--I missed two more beginners at my next school because they went on a field trip and didn't bother to call me. (At least that's "free money for Kev" unless they have a really, really good reason for not calling.)

Hmm, I think that's it in the negative column. It is interesting that, on this weirdest of teaching days (Tuesdays are all middle school and college--no high school), all the good things happened at the college and all the bad things happened at the middle schools. I wonder what that means...that teaching college is more fun? Maybe...but they each have their rewards. At any rate, the first day is done, and I'm looking forward to a good semester.

A good kind of Murphy's Law: I found out a few weeks ago, when we went to hear John Murphy play at Kirby's, that he's an occasional reader of this blog. In the process of putting up links to that post, I ran across his faculty website, and it turns out to be quite "bloggy" itself. I've visited it from time to time, and today's post was quite interesting; it's called How to Have an Argument. Here's a sample:
Intellectual life...centers around three activities: listening closely to others, summarizing them in a fair and accurate way, and making your own argument.

Making an argument means making your own point about a question that is important to a community of researchers. It's different from describing, or telling a story, although these kinds of writing and talking play a role in making an argument.

The reason students remain clueless about the intellectual life of the academy is that they don't get introduced or welcomed into the culture of ideas and arguments, a culture in which one of the central forms of discourse is "whereas X argues _____, I argue _____." They don't get introduced to this culture because too many academics take it for granted. They count on a lucky few students to figure it out for themselves, and from this segment of the student population comes the next generation of intellectuals.
As always, read the whole thing.

John is a cool guy who's a great musician and into all kinds of interesting things, so I highly recommend his site, and I'm happy to add it to the sidebar over here.

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