Friday, January 18, 2008

Literacy online

There was a snowstorm the night before last, and ETSU's day classes were cancelled. But we were open in the evening, and that's when I teach. As a Northerner, I am comfortable with winter driving, I didn't think my students would be particularly enthusiastic about driving home afterward on mountain roads in the dark and cold, so we held class online.

I've always liked the idea of online instruction because it affords education to those who would not otherwise have access. But my own experiences with online teaching have been negative; it seems so impersonal. Yesterday, though, I had a lot of time to devote to preparation, and I made a discovery: online instruction when augmented with visuals permits a different kind of communication. As I sat at my computer, I felt I was welcoming the students into my world. It was kind of like blogging.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Ritual

In my ultra-liberal agnostic Jewish family, attending civil rights marches and anti-war rallies was a religious ritual. During the Vietnam War, my Dad was always telling me to attend these things, just as some parents remind their kids to go to church . I've never gone on as many marches as Dad wanted, but sometimes I've turn up-- like going to church Easter Sunday when you haven't been all year.
My friend Julia Rogers persuaded me to attend yesterday's march in honor of Dr. King. For our students, he is a figure from history. We sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Young people who had not lived through the sixtes made speeches in honor of MLK, and there was a ritual reading of the "I Have a Dream" Speech. Just think-- when Dr. King made that speech, ETSU was segregated. As we did in the sixties, we joined hands and sang "We Shall Overcome." We assembled outside the Culp Center, and made a short march around campus.
The press was on hand, and there were photographers. In my student days, photographers did not hound me, nor did I seek them. But this crowd wasn't big, so it was hard to get lost. I wound up on the evening news and in the Johnson City Press (above).

What does tomorrow mean? It is 5:30 pm here, but at home it’s 5:00 in the morning. I leave Weihai tomorrow and make a stop in Beijing. ...