Summer Semester Starts – A Different SSS

That title is only funny if you know that this blog also repeats content from a defunct blog called “Sardonic Shock Syndrome,” or SSS. Also, the title isn’t funny then, either, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

FIU has just begun Summer Semester B – a super-short and not-exactly-sweet harrowing and hurried six-week experience in which we, the professors, try to cram fifteen weeks worth of instruction into six weeks. Can it be done? Yes. Can it be done well? Yes, but with less enthusiasm than I answered the previous questions.

Decades from now, I’ll scream at a chair.

But in the words of Clint Eastwood as The Outlaw Josie Wales, we endeavor to persevere. I had a really good chat with a colleague a while back about what it means to make a good rubric & syllabus in terms of evaluating student work, and that conversation encouraged (forced isn’t the right word) to re-commit myself to wu-wei, going with it: flow.

I write on this now in the events that some aspiring educator happens to see it, and maybe that aspiring educator wants some advice – well, I’m offering it regardless of how wanted it is since it’s my blog and you came here: my advice is to improv your way through every class, yes-and-ing and going with the flow. It’s so very, very much better than the alternative, which is to be a rigid, unhelpful no-but-er.

As a hilarious coincidence? This is like 99% content I posted about on my other blog way back in the day, but because I’m reposting content from that blog chronologically (and chronically hashtagfourtwentyblazeit amirite heyooooo just kidding kids drugs are bad don’t do drugs lol just j/k-in’ but not really), I wouldn’t get to THAT post for like a year, and I thought this was useful to get down now.

But really: not really tho.

What I DIDN’T do in that other blog, I don’t think, is spend much time talking about why it’s better to go along with things and yes-and a class. If I recall correctly, I may have mentioned that it makes things easier for everyone, and that’s valid – I think that college should be a little hard, but not for administrative reasons like rigid grading criteria and rock-hard deadlines, but for the content under discussion.

No, I think that embracing wu-wei is the better learning experience because in doing nothing, we open everything. The old Bruce Lee maxim “be like water” allows us to wash over, around, even through, stone. Allowing everything to be-come in its own time not only requires so much less effort, but produces such better results that it’s worth being firm for just a moment: put down the ruler, wipe that stern expression off your face, and listen to what the classroom is doing.

The final truth about this concept is for the instructor especially: you don’t know. Like seriously, if you’re like me you’ve been writing all your life and you have multiple degrees in writing and you publish stuff and for all that? You still don’t know. I don’t know either, so you’re in good, nay great, company. But you can’t possibly know, like KNOW-know, what your students need from your course – so provide, opine, embrace your own author-ity, but know when to cool it and just let things be.

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