Thursday, September 22, 2011

First Skype Meeting with Leona, FI Deadline, and Philosophy

I had my first online skype meeting with Leona. I thought it went fairly well. I feel much better about all this than I did about a week or two ago. I did want to finish my blog post of last week on my ruminations regarding the Philosophical Foundations book, but got clogged down in marking student essays. In many ways I like teaching the writing, having a window into the students thoughts, but it is quite a slog sometimes. When you have 24 or 25 students writing essays in a language that is not their mother tongue it can be an incredible amount of effort to sift through it and decipher things. I also seem to be a compulsive grammar checker, even though I try to force myself not to, I can't seem to shake it. I'm trying to focus more and more on their content and ideas, but sometimes the grammar mistakes make their content and ideas confusing or vague.

I talked a bit about the philosophy from the book, especially regarding the balance between having a respect and reverence for rationally based thought with regards to epistemology and being careful not to make the classroom to heated of a place. I did have one aha moment. Their is a distinct difference between what I do, express, and challenge inside the confines of my university job teaching english as a a second language, and what I can challenge or express in general, while living here in a foreign culture. Because of my conviction that building a personal philosophy of morality and justice should be built on firm pillars of reason I have many misgivings about the extreme brand of confucianism that permeates the culture here. It doesn't always promote critical thinking, thinking outside the box. It's a very conformist and conservative society compared to how I grew up, although it does seem to be getting more flexible as time goes on. There are also some good things, the willingness to work hard, and strong family ties for instance.

Leona asked if putting a deadline on passing in my Foundations Institute assignment would help motivate and focus me. We agreed on October first. I think it's a good thing as it will help to keep me focused. Also, there will be a certain feeling of freedom to have it behind me. I am making progress, and feel like I've had more momentum the last week or so. I've got four of my annotations done. Leona told me that the two annotations that I sent to her were really well written. That made me feel more confidant that I am on the right track.

So, my two goals right now are too finish my other six or seven annotations by October first and if at all possible also finish my blog entry on the Philosophical Foundations book. I am still where I was on that before, the first two chapters done. I'm really glad I decided to do the blog about what I read. It's makes me more confident I'll have something to show for it all down the road. I've read lots and lots of books in my life, and many of them sparked really intense thoughts and reflections, but it's all a blur sometimes. It can be hard to recall specifics. That's not to say that all the ideas and things I learned are gone, but recall is hard. My highlighting while I read and making notes and journaling later seems really useful. It's a great way to build an arsenal for arguments I'll be trying to make in the future! I've also printed out hard copies as back up of all the blog entries up to the Philosohical Foundations reading blog. That way I'll be able to read all my blog entries like a book and see a progression over time. I can't print farther until I finish that particular blog or the printing order and page numbers will be screwed up.

Now I've got about three more of those student essays to slog though before I'm done with this batch. It's already 11:34 so maybe I ought to leave it till the weekend. Then again, with the band cd release on Saturday night, the practice tomorrow, and hockey on Sunday perhaps it would be best if I put it behind me. I've been making a list of problem sentences (grammar wise) as I've been going through these essays. I also hope I can get a chance to type that up and organize it so I can do an overview during class and all students can see some of the solutions to common mistakes.


No comments:

Post a Comment