01 December 2005

Research Findings

Teaching is fun because I get to learn so much about myself.

Today Keith, a freshman, asked me, "Did you ever notice that big piece of lettuce you had in your teeth yesterday after lunch?" He is in my 5th-period, post-lunch class.

"Uh, no," I replied.

"It was really big. I felt sure you would notice it."

I mentioned that my sophomores are working on research. We just finished John Hersey's Hiroshima. Now they are researching civilian victims of war or terrorism.

I learned that their idea of history was a lot different than mine.

Rachel, a good student in my 6th-period class, chose to research the Oklahoma City Bombing. There was only one problem: she had never heard of it before.

Never heard of it? I couldn't believe it.

Then I did some math.

My sophomores were born in 1989 and 1990 (I graduated from high school in 1989). They were five years old at the time Timothy McVeigh launched the then-worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. Of course Oklahoma City would seem like history to her.

I really feel old when I'm trying to describe the Berlin Wall, the Cold War, and the Soviet Union to high school students. These were the greatest threats to my country when I was in high school. I tell them that in order to understand 1989--when Communism collapsed and Eastern European countries began to embrace Capitalism--they would have to imagine Osama bin Laden converting to Christianity and seeking to become a missionary!

Schedule Craziness

Jenny and I are taking turns in one-upmanship. It's hard to imagine that I was on vacation just a week ago. With all the work this week, I feel like I should have spent eight hours a day working during vacation!

It's essay week, which means getting sophomores ready to write a research paper (a labor sort of like that of Sisyphus in Hades) and teaching a short story unit to freshmen. Every night this week I have had a four-inch-high stack of homework to grade.

This year I have adjusted my schedule to grade papers early in the morning. I awaken at 4:30, finish shower and worship by 5, and then grade until 6:30. It helps me to budget my time, and it is better than staying up all night, which often takes longer.

With Jenny putting in 11-hour days this week, though, it has been rough. Last night, she got home about 9 p.m. Fifteen minutes later, I was in bed! This morning, she awoke at 6:30. I was off to school 30 minutes later.

Teaching isn't a breeze, that's for sure. Working 5 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with 20-minute breaks for breakfast, lunch and driving to work. Whew! Is it Christmas yet?