Nice to get back to real life in the motor city after four weeks in Oxford (Ohio, not the U.K.). As always working with the Ohio Writing Project was a pleasure. I learn so much from the teachers who complete the project and admire their energy and creativity...not to mention the numbers: the number of students they teach every day, the number of hours they're in the classroom every single day. It's permissable and commonplace in many contexts to badmouth the work of public school teachers. The myth of laziness: they get out of work at three (ha!), they only work nine months a year. The myth of ineffectuality: those who can do... I always think of Mike Rose's great book Possible Lives when I meet OWP associates who give so much. Trekking down to Oxford feels kind of like summer camp, complete with walks in Western Woods and life in a dorm room.
It's fun, but can't beat getting back to real life. This weekend, Nicole and I worked at Caribou Coffee, she working on cases and me grading owp final portfolios (which I must mail out this week complete with my comments and feedback). We went to church. We ate at the lazy j ranch...details here at the new and improved lazy j blog. Normal stuff, which feels pretty good.
Much to do. That is, after getting these portfolios done. I teach two classes this fall (thank you, gods of the pre-tenure course releases!); I'm ready to roll in Advanced Exposition (planned that syllabus down in Oxford) but have a new syllabus to prep for the new Writing as Civic Literacy course. (If you're keeping score at home, that means this will be the third semester in eleven years (!) in which I'm not teaching a section of first-year writing.) And I'm planning a classroom research project for the WCL course that involves collecting data on student attitudes toward community and civic life. The proposal is before the UM-Dearborn IRB right now (finished that down in Oxford) but some details of the project still need worked out. And I've got a boatload of research I want to read on the rhetoric of civic engagement and service learning before September hits. I'm probably going to start a companion blog this week to respond to some of that literature, so stay tuned for that.
Anyhoo, I'm glad to be back in Detroit. Hopefully, regular blogging to follow...