Friday, January 22, 2016

What a drag it is

It's been several days since I've posted because the new semester began this week and I've been anxiously pacing and googling trying to get inspired and organized. I cannot explain why I am always anxious as the term is about to begin. It lasts only one or two days, and then I remember that I do know how to do this and can keep them interested for the full three hours even without a black (or white) board or a projector, as I've had to do this week in my new but not yet furnished classroom.

Today we talked about stereotypes. I did not share my stereotypical observation - born out in the first week of class - that Chinese students have no interest in the news, and Saudi students cannot write. Already I am dealing with a sweet and earnest Saudi guy who says he cannot write the assigned paragraph because he doesn't know how to begin. I give him an opening sentence, but he does not know how to continue either. He says he has never been taught to write. I acknowledge that this will make it difficult for him to get into University and point out that the other students have been writing since they were in primary school. His homework sentences were perfect. How did he do that? My hunch is there was some serious collaboration with Google Translate. He does not see this as a problem. And that is a problem. Won't I let him write his paragraph at home? No, I won't.

The Mid-Atlantic states are preparing for a blizzard this weekend. Sadly it will not make it as far as Boston. If I had stayed in Philadelphia, I might have been snowed in for days. I could do with a good bit of weather to distract me from myself. As I've mentioned, my vacation was too long. When I am bored
I think about my lack of purpose, my failure to accomplish anything, my insignificance. I get mopey and wonder what the point of getting out of bed is. From there I go on to wonder whether there is any point in even waking up. You can see where that might lead.

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