Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year, a new quarter...and English 101

I bought my books yesterday--okay, my kid, who felt sorry for me because I'm broke, bought my books for me. An intensive Quickbooks guide to vendors/banks, a horrible tome on Excel, some random thing about how to communicate in small groups. Which I still can't figure out, even though I read the first chapter. I'm not sure if it's a business thing, or something to do with the dynamics of small groups. Guess I'll have to show up and be perky--maybe get a haircut.

I also have a book of what looks like horribly boring, "educational" essays and a nifty, spiral bound, indexed, "Writer's Reference with attached ESL CID" (what a CID is, I dunno, but I expect it's probably good for me). When my kid got home, he threw the book on the table and said, "You need to challenge this. You might not have the cred, but you have a Master's understanding of English."

Which is probably the nicest thing one of my children has ever said to me.

And...mostly wrong.

I don't try to hide the fact I was kicked out of the University of Hawaii by my English teacher. I was obnoxiously prejudiced in my own favor and he was a jerk--not a good combination. I have a lot of pet peeves and gaps in my knowledge base--an even bigger problem.

Recently, Bria did a blog quiz about literary devices. Para-this and ama-that. Obscure-edness only a English teacher retains beyond the five minutes it takes to figure out what they are and how they work, and I totally blanked.

Last year, my daughter did a whole semester on the Writer's Journey and archetypes--and I was absolutely no help. I must have muttered "writer's journey? Archetypes!!!" for a week. Some people love archetypes, and that's cool--but I can't stand them.

Ordinary world, getting/refusing the Call/mentors and guardians of the Threshold/tests and ordeals/return with the elixir? Huh? Is it just me, but why did this horribly half-baked cover of what's a perfectly readable bit of folktale analysis turn into the gold-standard? It's formula. Sort of like saying the only kind of strudel is apple.

How can you encourage thinkers when thinking is laid out like a recipe? Baking--despite all quotes to the contrary is NOT an exact science. The person who buys a set of measuring cups and uses them, isn't the guy using a teacup because recipes are proportional.

And...I need to climb down off my soapbox.

There's something "after" English. Something that's supposedly English, but I don't see people teaching. Chatman with his theories on kernels and satellites, Genette's sidelong approach to structuralism, even Egri, the granddaddy of "find your character's motto". No right or wrong. Nothing rote. Genette published a second book on narrative discourse, defending his first. Thesis>>defense of thesis. Provable arguments that make sense, or collapse with no ill-will. Fun.

It all goes back to mind-mapping. Mind-mapping says people remember and process better using curved and non-linear notes, and that's in direct contrast to my "Writer's Reference with attached ESL CID"

I probably can't dissect the tone of some essay in the "correct" way anymore than I can use big words to prove I know what they mean. In some ways, I'm beyond English 101 (which at least isn't English 100), in others--probably not so much.

I have a little padding in my grade point. I can probably absorb a 2.0


Hailey Edwards said...

First of all, it sounds like you have one sweet kid.

Also, I'm all for you absorbing this stuff in class, then coming here to blog and break it down for those of us who scratched their heads around the time you mentioned "Para-this and ama-that."

I'm crossing my fingers for good grades. ;)

jodi said...

He's a nice guy, and I'm grateful he's the only one of my family that doesn't read my blog, lol.

I'm pretty afraid of English. I could feel myself getting all tense and angry, but I know those are just echoes. Trying to keep that thought in front of me? I dunno. Maybe.

Everyone has their trigger points.

Thanks, Hailey. :)

Alice Audrey said...

I don't think you're going to need to take any grade point hits. And you don't need a haircut either. As to the small groups thing - you're already doing it. Now they expect you to attach jargon to it.

jodi said...

lol, Alice. On-line and in person are totally different things. You know how I am in real-life. Hmmm...maybe I was too "up"? I dunno. I've been stuttering a lot, probably nerves, or lack of focus, or antihistamines.

Maybe I just need another nap. Or something for the hot flashes. :(

Alice Audrey said...

I can see you mumbling more than stuttering.

liana laverentz said...

I have something for the hot flashes. Email me!