I wrote a post about the wheels in Hesse’s Beneath the Wheel.
earthswinging said: I'm a high school teacher and I like to make a point of taking weekly participation grades (usually they're simply required to participate 5 times within the week). While most of my kids do fine, I always have a couple of introverted students who struggle to get ANY participation points, which of course brings down their grade. I think it's important that they practice participating in discussions and sharing their opinions, but I also don't want to persecute my introverted students. Any advice?
That’s a super tough situation and I don’t have really that much advice - my teaching grades have never been based in participation so I don’t have much experience with that.
I do know a lot of introverts actually have stuff to say but they either aren’t 100% certain or find that they express themselves a lot better in written form, so perhaps giving a few writing exercises that cover the same things might help. Remember the goal of participation is to make sure that they’re engaging with the material, not necessarily that they’re talking about it - those are two different things! So a couple of different activities that engage in different ways will probably help those students *and* will help the students who are already engaged to engage in different ways.
If any followers have tips, please do chime in!
I hated discussions in my classes (partially because I’m really bad at them and partially because it seemed like a lot of other people’s comments were pretty worthless). In fact, I dropped a class in my last semester of college because half of my grade would have been discussion-based, and I’m pretty sure I would have failed the class.
I think that distinction between engaging with material and talking about it is an important one. As far as I can remember, I was always thinking about what we were covering in class, but the talking about it was really difficult. (During one semester of college, I said only three things in my four classes.) I found (and still find) talking awkward and intimidating, largely because it’s difficult to quickly come up with words that will clearly express what I’m thinking. (An-other problem with discussions is trying to achieve a high enough level of comprehension of this material that’s been flung at you only a few days before, in order to have something relevant and interesting to say. But I don’t think that’s pertinent here.)
In two of my classes my junior year, there was this sort of participation requirement, and the professor allowed us to email her instead of talking during class. I did this almost every week. However, with that option came the understanding that she could call on me in class to have me say what I’d said in my email. That still led to
some a lot of verbal flailing, but it was better than trying to come up with something off the top of my head. It allowed me to organize my thoughts before trying to communicate them.
I also found online discussions slightly better than in-person discussions because they were asynchronous and I could look over what I’d typed before I actually submitted it. (Although I was still annoyed with some of the irrelevant points people were trying to make, not to mention their horrendous spelling and grammar.)
I’m not sure if this is very helpful, but I just wanted to talk about how much I hated discussions.
I finished re-reading Beneath the Wheel to-day. (I started it only four days ago, but it’s a pretty short book; there are only seven chapters.)
In a continuing trend of re-reading books and finding things I’d been completely oblivious to, I’d missed some things the other two times I read this.* I’m still not completely sure how everything connects, but there’s a fair amount of stuff about sinking and being crushed and about wheels, both in keeping with the title. Like the cog wheel that Hans has to clean when he’s an apprentice. There’s something similar between that and his time at the academy, but I haven’t quite thought it out yet.
*Not like you can ever get everything out of a book in a single reading, which is sort of the great thing about books: every time you read it, you can see different things. Or the same things in different ways.
kmthu said: What's the "DO NOT EAT" thing in packaged foods, what's in it and how does it work? Thanks!
It’s silica gel…an artifical form of silicon dioxide (the same stuff that makes up sand) that has tons of tiny pores that have affinities for water. Silica gel can absorb around 40% of its weight in water. It’s manufactured to be entirely dry and then placed in food or other products that manufacturers don’t want to get moist in humid climates (slightly moist chips are what we in the real world call “stale.”) Water would rather be in the silica matrix than the food matrix, so that’s where it goes, keeping the food nice and dry.
And if you’re wondering why you shouldn’t eat it…it’s just because it’s not technically food. It’s not dangerous though…it’s just fancy sand.
When I was in band in elementary school, the director told us to put silica gel packets in our instrument cases so that rats wouldn’t get in them. I’m not sure how effective that is, although - to my knowledge - there have never been rats in my instrument cases.
I think the whole water absorption thing is more relevant. There’s a lot of spit in instruments.
Yester-day, I got invited to this familial party in September. Since I haven’t seen any of my extended family since I graduated university (save for two aunts who came to the graduation ceremony), I’m pretty sure I’m going to be asked about what I’m going to do now that I’ve graduated.
And I have absolutely no idea, so I’m trying to read more books, so I can at least say, “Hey, I’ve read sixty books this year.”
Having typed that out, I now realize that it doesn’t make much sense. But I’m still going to try to have sixty books read by the end of September (I’m only eight away as it is).
I just started re-reading Hermann Hesse’s Beneath the Wheel for a second time (third time reading it) because apparently it’s the first day of school, and I feel that reading a book about the crushing aspects of academia on a day when I don’t have to return to school is appropriate.
Also, considering that to-day is the day that people return to school, I’m going to start going through my Latin textbook again because I’ve forgotten so much Latin, and I’m kind of embarrassed about it.
I guess what I’m doing now that I graduated university is actually going back to learn stuff that I should have learnt while in university. Or things that I could have learnt while at university, had I known what I was doing.
Related to that post I wrote about The Divine Comedy and The Quest of the Holy Grail:
Whoever wrote The Quest of the Holy Grail has Adam and Eve both still virgins when they leave the Garden of Eden after the fall into sin. John Milton, in Paradise Lost, doesn’t, so that he can compare how sex is before and after the fall into sin.
I just thought it was interesting how those two works play around with the same event, but use aspects of it in different ways.
In my last post, I mentioned how the Ents in The Lord of the Rings were inspired by a line in Macbeth (IV.i.92), which Tolkien mentions in one of his letters. Luckily, the book of his letters has an index! So it was pretty easy to find it again.
[The Ents’] part in the story is due, I think, to my bitter disappointment and disgust from schooldays with the shabby use made in Shakespeare of the coming of “Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill”: I longed to devise a setting in which the trees might really march to war.
This is in a letter Tolkien sent to W.H. Auden on 7 June 1955.
I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been re-reading The Lord of the Rings. I’m amazed at how much stuff I missed in it. Not plot points, but allusive elements (and some other stuff). I wrote a post about some Biblical allusions in The Two Towers, but there’s a lot of allusions in The Return of the King too. I bet I’d find some in The Fellowship of the Ring if I went back and re-read that, knowing what I do about the other two books now. (I probably will do that at some point because some of the things I found in the other two books have made me curious about specific details in the first book, and it would be much easier to just re-read it in order to find those parts than to flip through the pages and hope to get lucky.)
But, yeah, The Return of the King. In the past nine days (during which I’ve read only about a hundred pages), I’ve written almost a whole page of notes about it (the rest of the page is three lines about a specific phrase I found in Genesis that I think is in Steinbeck but can’t remember which work and two lines about ambiguous diction in a Gershwin biography I was reading).
When I finish The Return of the King, I’ll probably write a post about an Anglo-Saxon poetic convention that I’ve found in the work (thanks to reading the introduction to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight over spring break last year), which might overlap with an epic poetic convention that I also found (I’m not sure if that particular convention is specifically Anglo-Saxon).
There’s also a possible connection with Hamlet that I posited way back in February 2011 (just after I first read LOTR) that this re-reading is following up on and largely motivated by, but I haven’t gotten to the corresponding LOTR part yet, so I can’t say if it’s valid. (Related: the Ents were definitely inspired by a line in Macbeth; Tolkien mentions this in a letter [or at least I think that’s where I read it], so there’s already an indisputable Shakespeare connection.)
But I’m going to have to go back and re-read the whole trilogy again, keeping in mind a lot of this stuff and also re-reading Beowulf. Helpfully, I recently got Tolkien’s translation (which just came out this year), and I have the Norton Critical Edition, which includes some of his criticism on the poem.
I don’t know whether I’m noticing so much about the book now because I actually have time to read it (when I last read it, which was also my first time reading it, I had to read it for a class, so I sped through it in about three weeks), because I know more about literature, both of those reasons, or something else entirely.
I recently started re-reading Catch-22. (The only other time I read it was something like four years ago, and I’m not sure I really understood it at the time.) In chapter two, there’s a reference to Raskolnikov (and his killing an old lady with an ax). I was sort of familiar with Raskolnikov but only as a name in the Mountain Goats’ “Love Love Love” from The Sunset Tree:
Raskolnikov felt sick, but he couldn’t say why
When he saw his face reflected in his victim’s twinkling eye
So I decided to actually look up this Raskolnikov guy, and I’ve discovered that he’s a character in Crime and Punishment (which I was a bit suspicious of, what with the reference to killing an old lady). And now Crime and Punishment is a little bit higher on my list of books to read.