Good evening from my house on Lightstreet,
Today was the first day of class for the third session of summer school. It is a tough road when one is cramming 14 weeks worth the work into 6. Furthermore, when you have two classes as well as other requirements, it is even more difficult. What I learned as I listened to my students today is a strong desire to succeed, and some idea of what that means. On the other hand this is the need to have strategies for achieving that success. That realization or plan is still up in the air, and not surprisingly.
I remember how much I hoped I would succeed the first time I went to college, but I had little idea of what it required and the amount of work I needed to do to be more than merely another one of the 35,000 students at Iowa State University back then, Of course as I look back I had little idea of why I was there except like many today, it seemed the only way to make something more of my life. So much has changed since then. The pressure and the “supposed need” to complete a college education has never been higher, nor has the cost. What I am not convinced of, is whether the investment into an undergraduate education can be recouped. I think it is dependent on much more than whether you graduate with the appropriate GPA, whether you have the appropriate major, or whether you understand the basic ideal of what it means to be truly educated. I wonder if the being a first generation college student merely ratchets up those concerns. As those who know me best understand, I too was that first generation college student. As I have noted before, while my parents did impress upon me the importance of a higher education, they did not really do much to prepare or support me. I do not say that begrudgingly, but merely as a statement of fact.
During the next few days, the whirlwind pace of the summer session will begin to become more apparent to the summer students. It will be a bit of a rude awakening, but regardless, it is there. In the next week, they will have a number of things to accomplish, including a number of genres and styles necessary to complete their writing assignments. They will be reading a number of different things. Both posted, as well as things that are in hard copy. There are different topics and different requirements. All of them require the student to think critically about the audience and purpose of that article. Even more they will have to begin to put together a sort of overview of what is being asked in the course.
All in all, the first day barely scratched the surface, but I was happy, at least generally speaking, with what I heard and observed in class today. It is after 10:30 and I have looked through email and such. Rachael and Jennifer, my great-niece and niece, respectively, will be leaving in the morning. It has been wonderful to have them here in my part of the world. The alarm is set for 3:45.
Thanks for reading.
Michael (aka: Dr. Martin)