Monday, November 15, 2010

NaBloPoMo 15 -- halfway done

NaBloPoMo 15 -- halfway done


You know, I haven't posted about X in a while. But you know, he is the best proof in the world that sometimes recognizing a bad marriage, or bad compatibility for marriage, is a good thing. We are so much better as friends than we were as spouses. I appreciate him far more as a friend, and he seems to notice far more about my moods than he did as a husband. I'm sorry it didn't work out, but very glad and very thankful that we still have a relationship that is well worth having. I'm also glad that he has a very cool fiance who likes me :-)

Sometimes, life can work out for the best.


All of this is to say that it is good when we are reminded of the things that *are* good in life.

I had two of those moments today, which was a completely depressing and infuriating day in several other ways. I left class disheartened because my students Just. Did. Not. Get. It. In a way that I could not have anticipated.

I mentioned this to a sort-of colleague I met on the staircase (sort-of, because he's another academic, a Political Scientist, but he doesn't teach at SLAC. He's the President's husband who sometimes works on campus). Anyway, I mentioned the thing -- the students really did not get that the Pact of Umar was not something everybody agreed to so that people of different religions could live together in respect and peace, even though they knew it was imposed on Christians after a conquest!.

And he said something that helped to crystallize the issue for me: "They don't understand power."

And so much fell into place for me. I really need to change some of my teaching, especially in those classes where I can because the outcomes are things like "gain multiple perspectives and demonstrate global awareness." It may just be a good idea to start off the class with a set of theoretical propositions and explanations. What happens in pre-20th C wars? What is slavery, really? How do different cultures define race and ethnicity?

hmmmm

4 comments:

What Now? said...

I've had a little of that "they don't understand power" in my AP Comp class as well. They're so caught up in stories of individual success and failure that they really don't comprehend what happens to groups of people in interactions with each other. We had one of those conversations just yesterday in class, although I don't think we're at the "breakthrough" stage yet. At least in my case, I have them for an entire year, four days a week -- we may get somewhere!

tenthmedieval said...

If it's really 'fiance' not 'fiancée' there may have been deeper problems there... But seriously, you know I hear you. My best friend these days is my first ex. The number of times we have together or separately said something equivalent to "We are so much better as friends than we were as spouses" could not easily be counted. Hurrah for sense, love and friendship! These are what sensible people *ought* to be capable of.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

gaaah will have to fix that spelling, because yes, she is a nice woman. Not that it matters, except in terms of accuracy!

WN, it's good to know that you are teaching them such things! What students don't know is a moving target, I think.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

I recently tried a new approach in class where I think I forced them to get it; maybe you'd find it helpful? Here goes:

We were reading that Hugh of Lusignan narrative where he goes on and on about how his lord William of Aquitaine keeps going back on his word, and he, poor Hugh, haplessly keeps trying to be the good vassal to a bad lord. And there were the usual reactions about what a bad guy William was, and why did Hugh keep taking it?

And then, Lo! I said unto them: "One thing we're all assuming is that Hugh is telling the unvarnished truth about events. Let's read the document another way: let's assume he's not being fully honest with us. We'll credit him with not making up anything out of whole cloth, but rather that he is spinning events in such a way as to make himself look good. Let's assume, for a moment, that Hugh is the bad guy. Take a minute with that."

And then the discussion took off.

I'm not sure if too much credulity is your students' problem, but if it is, maybe this approach could help?"