Saturday, January 20, 2007

To build a new perspective

I haven't been blogging much lately. I haven't felt all that moved to do so. Ironically, it's in part due to my English literature course. One might ask how taking an English course could possibly demotivate a guy in his writing. Well... lemme tell ya... *sigh*

I received a bit of a lesson in humanity yesterday. At her invitation, I met with my prof. for a coffee - off-campus. It's my understanding that this kind of invitation is rare, indeed. She had my second essay marked and wished to discuss the results with me.

We agreed to meet at 10AM at a coffee shop convenient to both of us. I showed up in good time, settled myself in a seat by the door, readied my books and waited... and waited... and waited. She didn't show. My immediate reaction was that she had again turned ill and was unable to make our appointment. Sad, sad thought! I waited an hour and after having left a message for her, went on about my day. Later in the afternoon, my cell phone rang. It was Professor M.

"I didn't write our appointment down, absolutely inexcuseable... could we meet this afternoon?"

I MADE time for her... this, after all, was a rare opportunity!

We did in fact meet, and on entering the coffee shop I greeted Prof. M. Immediately, she asked what I might like to drink. My intention was to buy HER a tea for her trouble.

"David, they've informed me that your money is no good here... you'll have to allow me to get this for you. And would you like something to eat?"

Amazing. Truly amazing. One of the life lessons I've learned along the way is how to be a gracious receiver. I shouldn't argue over who should or shouldn't pay... it would be an insult to refuse M.'s offer. I therefore, accepted. Graciously.

By way of academic grade, I didn't fare all that well. By way of learning experience, I cleaned up! This grade, after all, came with a personal tutorial and an additional exercise. My assignment: To rewrite the second essay, minding the topic of our discussion, how to write an explication!

My writing was caught somewhere between an explication and a critical analysis. I had confused the two, and really had done more quoting and plot summary than actual explication. M. related this little bit to me:

"Think of an explication as unwrapping a sweater that's been folded up. Explore the sonnet line by line, quatrane by quatrane, and really explain, in your own words, what it means."

We then went on to discuss the significance of grades.

"I don't like them.", she said with a rather stern tone in her voice. She then proceeded to acknowledge all those who remain in our class. Having started with over fourty, to my count we have less than half remaining.

"These are the dedicated students - the ones who are here to learn."

A lot was said about grades and the grading system, but for the sake of this exercise, I'll spare you the lengthy banter.

Near the end of our appointment, M. made it very clear that I had been taking this, and the previous assignment, far too seriously. I was aiming for something up in the sky when the reality was that the requirements were at eye level. I was trying too hard. Simple as that.

My praise to M. for being a true teacher. I've been learning far more than simply how to write an essay. I've been learning how to learn -- and a lot about myself along the way.

9 comments:

Anvilcloud said...

She's a unique prof to do that. Of course, I never had a prof as a mature student, so maybe they treat you differently. I'm sure she appreciates your attitude towards the class and learning.

ipodmomma said...

I don't now how many times things I have planned extensively haven't worked out as I planned, then something pops up and is much better...

nice for her to make time for you... :)))

Expat Traveler said...

sounds like a great learning process...

I certainly learned more in my writing classes than any other classes out there.

Expat Traveler said...

oh yes - I'll keep you posted on Banff etc. I am dying for some pics in the area! But we have to wait for the snow etc to die down.

Badoozie said...

I'm still dying to read it

oshee said...

Hey!
First, I understand the blog writing needed to take a break. No worries, we are all still here with you.

Good for you on being a good receiver. That is a certainly a learned art.

It is so good that you went into the class wanting to learn. It sounds like you earned the respect of the professor for that. Perhaps better than the best grade is the time she gave you. I am sure you appreciate her respect more than a great grade.

smiley said...

Well I know about not being very motivated to blog, I've been the same myself lately...

So thought of visiting other's blogs.

Wow your prof is wonderful. I've never known anyone who gives so much time for students.

sare said...

A good prof. certainly makes all the difference in the world, it's amazing how the same subject taught by different people can change your way of thinking. I have had the good, the bad and the ugly in terms of teaching. So glad you have found someone who would take the time to know you on a personal level - it definitley is rare.
Good luck with those essays!

Janice said...

Hi Dave,

I'm glad your off your brake I took on but it wasn't me it was my landline going down for two whole weeks!

Hang in there, it sounds like you got a good prof there!

Janice~

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Calgary, Alberta, Canada
English student, Pottery enthusiast, Yoga novice and lover of all people. I make friends over a warm handshake and a beverage. I discover, every day, someone willing to help me along my path.