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"Nothing shall I, while sane, compare with a subordinate phrase."

My 8:30 a.m. class, 14 students, meets in a room where we sit around the perimeter of small rectangular tables arranged into a square. I sit at the table with the students but always ask the students next to me, "Does it make you nervous that I'm sitting here?" A little light irony never hurts.

Today I was seated at a corner of the square, and about 10 minutes into class, I noticed the second student to my left typing briskly on her laptop. For an instant, I thought she wanted to capture every detail of our discussion about subordinate phrases.

For an instant.

When I teach, I move around now and then to keep students engaged. So it wasn't out of character for me to stand up, but it was out of character for me to immediately stop behind this student so quickly that she couldn't close her laptop or minimize what she was working on.

She was writing a paper about Homer. I wasn't smart enough to make the connection between Homer and subordinate phrases.

I stood behind her for a few moments and then said two words:

"Homer, huh?"

I figured it would be less embarrassing than putting her on blast.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
penshark
Apr. 23rd, 2015 04:51 am (UTC)
Somehow the fact that they may be typing at times we're not saying anything worth recording ... or that they're typing on a phone stashed in their lap ... is supposed to be something we don't see. I've never quite understood that reasoning.
patrick_vecchio
Apr. 23rd, 2015 12:23 pm (UTC)
I've always tried to appeal to reason—"it's disrespectful, it distracts your classmates, etc."—but no more. I'm going for the James Brown approach: Papa Don't Take No Mess.
penshark
Apr. 23rd, 2015 01:11 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I've tried the disrespectful/distracting classmates thing as well. Some people listen. Some people don't. As I mentioned, I found a well-chosen fit, pitched at just the right time, can make things change. But I hate to think I'm going to have to do that most semesters ...
strwberryfizz
Apr. 23rd, 2015 09:51 pm (UTC)
Concerning cell phones... from a student perspective, I think a zero tolerance approach is best. If I know a teacher will mark me as absent for the day if I'm on my phone, kick me out for the day, etc., that sucker is staying in my pocket. (As it should with no threats at all, obviously).
patrick_vecchio
Apr. 24th, 2015 01:27 am (UTC)
Thanks for the perspective, Kristy. I think you're right.
(Anonymous)
Apr. 25th, 2015 11:28 am (UTC)
A lesser man would have done more...nice touch -Holiday
patrick_vecchio
Apr. 25th, 2015 02:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Nick. I was close, though ...
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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Wish I'd Said It

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“I hate to say this, but not many people care what you do. They care about what you do as much as you care about what they do. Think about it. Just exactly that much. You are not the center of the universe.” — Laurie Anderson

"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

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"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

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• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”

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