Friday, February 04, 2005

Li-brary? It'd help my research more if it were a true-brary

So this morning after I taught my class (more on this below) I got a chance to go over to the rare books/special collections/manuscripts section of the library for a research project I'm doing. No, I didn't handle any musty and dusty 18th century documents or see Charles Dickens' actual handwriting or anything, but I did look at some old sci-fi magazines and a limited print book from the 70s. (I'm doing a presentation on Monday on the 1956 film Forbidden Planet as an adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Interesting stuff!) It was really fun though to be in what I like to call the fancy-pants part of the library. You have to go sign in and put all your belongings in a locker except for your notebooks and a pencil, and then you fill out a request for the books you want. You go have a seat in the reading room, and the staff brings you your selections. It's like research for the criminally lazy! They have these angled foam book mounts so you don't ruin the spines, and the reading room itself is kind of shut off from the rest of the library. It's really relaxing and really easy to get immersed in what you're doing.

While I was there, another girl came in and requested some stuff. When they brought to her they had to use a cart to wheel it all in because it was boxes and boxes of stuff: original drawings, WWII documents, and so on. That's cool! Archival research is much better than the watered down stuff I've done before. I can see why people love it and would want to do it more. It was really just a cool little experience.

So yeah, my class is interesting these days. The dynamics keep shifting. People who I thought were interested and participative are now the ones who fall asleep and roll their eyes at everything I say, and the ones who I thought had attitude are really working hard and concerned with their progress. There's one kid in particular who's bugging me a little bit. I think he's in the stage where he needs to challenge my authority, so he groans whenever I pass out a worksheet and rolls his eyes when I talk about the importance of things like, oh, you know, planning what you're going to say before you start writing and rereading your drafts before you hand them in. I want to be like "This is a writing class. What were you expecting?" One of my teachers says that when students challenge you in class they are a) seeing how far they can push before you react, and b) subtly saying "I'd like a C in this class. "

I think that's true. I gave him a C on his first paper, and he hasn't been as friendly since then. But he shouldn't feel bad, the best grade in the whole class for paper number one was a B+. Most people got Cs and Ds. Well, that's the fun part of being a teacher. I don't really have to worry about the attitude he gives. For one, I'm still in charge of the classroom, and for two, I wield the power of the gradebook. Not that I'd misuse that power, it's just that in the classroom teachers have the advantage of holding most of the cards.

OK, enough rambling. Back to work!

No comments: