Lent

On the one hand, we’re warned against publicizing our holy deeds.

On the other hand, I find that having a written record of my plans helps me to commit to them. If I keep my plans in my head, it’s too easy to tweak them based on what I feel like on any given day. I’m more disciplined when I write stuff down.

So here’s my record of what I plan to do for Lent.

One:Every Wednesday, I will give up sweets (chocolates, peppermint candies, etc) and skip lunch, or eat a very light lunch, in order to pray. This year, my church is encouraging members to fast once a week, and my plans are shaped by theirs. I’m excited to be partnering with my church for once, instead of doing this Lone Ranger style.

Two: I plan to read Dante’s Comedy, perhaps the essential Easter story.

Three: I hope to start memorizing 1 John.

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

1 John 3:2-3

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Teaser Tuesday: Education Is Not An App

One of my goals for 2017 29389855was to read Education Is Not an App. It’s been sitting on my shelf since late December, so I picked it up and started reading.

It’s more of a call to arms than I anticipated. Poritz & Rees do lay out the effects of technology on education, such as the tendency to “unbundle” professors’ service digitally or to substitute MOOCs for lectures as a way to increase profit profit without having staff, but as you can probably tell from even these bite sized summaries, they lay out the effects in such a way as to motivate action.

I’m about a third of the way through, and so far, the call is not to do away with technology but to be aware of its potential to disrupt the learning process, as well as the work and livelihood of faculty members, and to allow the faculty to retain control over how and when they will use technology. I’m really enjoying the read. It’s a bit dire in places, a bit inclined to predicting the future, but it’s still thought provoking.

Following the rules of Teaser Tuesday, here’s a randomly selected excerpt.

When you host an online course on someone else’s platform, your course isn’t really yours. Professor Jennifer Ebbeler learned this the hard way when she wrote an online version of the Roman History course for her home department, Classics, at the University of Texas-Austin. After two years of work, her department replaced [her as] the lecturer. Professor Ebbeler felt the replacement was unqualified. “They think it doesn’t matter who they put in charge because the course will teach itself,” she told the Chronicle of Higher Education. “And yet I’ve been clear all along that’s not the case” (Kolowich 2015). Imagine for a moment, a department pulling the same trick with a face to face course. Getting her lecture notes from her would be hard enough, let along the rest of the materials and knowledge that make the class a class. However, Ebbeler poured much of her knowledge into the course’s design, which gave her department enough control to determine exactly who teaches it, whether she likes it or not.

I should note, as I bring this post to a close, that I do teach online and I’ve been privileged to teach at an institution that encourages faculty, even adjunct online instructors, to design and control the technology they use in order to promote learning. I’m very thankful for my employer! Yet that doesn’t mean the problem outlined in the excerpt, and other problems, aren’t real elsewhere, and worth considering.

Here’s a link to its Goodreads page.

And in case you missed the last Teaser Tuesday post: This is a (semi) weekly series I’m doing, posting an excerpt from a randomly-selected page in whatever book I’m reading. More info here. Feel free to chime in with whatever book you’re reading!

 

Why I Marched

I participated in the local Women’s March yesterday. And I’m proud of it.

While I get that we live in a divided country, and that Trump supporters are unlikely to go march, I’ve still been dismayed by the guff the women’s marches have gotten from conservatives.

I’ve seen claims that the marches are tantamount to whining.

I’ve read comments that suggest the traffic snafus caused by the march are not worth it, and suggestions that we all just accept the new president, pick up, and carry on.

Perhaps most frustrating, I’ve heard at least two people (one our new president) express the belief that the protestors likely didn’t vote.

But I did vote, and the person I voted for did not get elected, and so that leaves the women’s march as an excellent way to make my voice heard at this important point in our nation’s history.

I am not whining. I am standing up for something I believe is critically important, and urging those who think it is important to do the same.

When Donald Trump criticized women and boasted about his sexual conquests on the campaign trail, I was deeply hurt and saddened. I was equally saddened by the reluctance of my fellow believers to stand up and condemn his remarks, and commit to voting against him.

Trump has demeaned women’s intelligence. He has objectified us, commented on the size of our chests and criticized our eating habits. He has freely helped himself to women’s bodies.

So as Trump takes the helm of our nation, then, let’s speak out on behalf of those that he mocked and criticized during his campaign, especially women. I marched yesterday because I wanted to stand up once again and say that women are important.

We are worth more than whether our bodies are conventionally beautiful or whether we are sexually available for men. We are smart and strong. We are thoughtful, capable, creative, and passionate. We too are made in the image of God.

Enough with criticizing women. Enough with objectifying us. Enough with disrespecting us because of our sex.

One of my favourite passages in the Bible is Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

I chose a portion of this verse for my protest sign. It read, “Do Justice. Love Mercy.”

It is neither just nor merciful to treat women as Trump has done.

As believers, we can do better. This is why I marched, not to whine but to join my voice with those who are calling for women to be, not maligned, but treated justly: as human beings, worthy of respect, wonder, and love.

 

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To Do: 2017

Here are my goals for 2017:

Personal: 

  • Learn to make at least three new cocktails. I know three, currently: the gin & tonic, a bittersweet grapefruit greyhound, and a hot toddy. All of these are yummy, but I’d like to expand my boundaries. Anybody want to come over for drinks?
  • This feeds into my second goal: I want to have more dinner parties. On the one hand, I love making food for people. On the other, I’m highly introverted and reluctant to invite people over. I want to push myself and host a few genuine dinner parties this year. Let’s set the goal at three.
  • I want to take care of my health. Specifically, I want to start flossing regularly and cut my addiction to Brach’s mints. I’ve had trouble with my teeth lately, and I think this will help.
  • I want to start selling, or giving away, some of my handiwork. Over the past few years I’ve gotten into handcrafts: knitting, bread baking, making granola; my hope is to find a way to sell these, or a way to give them away more frequently. I’ve already given away some knitting, including a blanket to Project Linus, but I’d like to formalize this a bit more. And of course, if the opportunity presents itself, I’d like to make money on my hobbies! We’ll see how this goes.
  • And I want to learn to pick up dropped stitches. 

Two less quantifiable goals:

One, I want to improve my bread-making skills. At this point, I’ve learned the basics. Now, I want to try some new and more adventurous things: a sourdough starter, rye flour or wheat flour, bagels or English muffins, homemade pizza. And of course, I want to gain confidence in general; I want to make fewer panicky posts on my Bread Baking group!

Two, I want to do more re-reading. Over the past few years, I’ve really gotten into the Goodreads challenge, amping up the number of books I read in any given year (from 25 to 30, to 45 this past year). Trying to make my reading goal has caused me to re-read very few books, and so I want to return to some of the most formative books in my life: the Lord of the Rings particularly, but also perhaps Laurus, the Divine Comedy; or even just really good books like A Fire Upon the Deep.

A few other wishes in this category: I’d like to travel somewhere new, I’d like to hike another mountain (My aunt & uncle & I picked out Uncompaghre), I’d like to go solo camping.

Professional: 

In this category there are three books I want to read:

  • A Well Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer. This one comes recommended to me by my mother. (She has good taste.) This one is a cornerstone of the classical school movement, and despite a few niggling annoyances I find in the movement, it’s largely solid. I’m interested to see what the book has to say about education.
  • The Marketplace of Ideasby Louis Menand. I can’t recall where I encountered this book, but as universities are going through a fairly massive shift in terms of the service they provide and who they provide it to, this book (I am hoping) will help me understand the context in which I work.
  • Along the same lines, I want to read Education is Not an AppNot only do I teach online, I teach, using technology, to students who are immersed in technology every day. This book promises to analyze and evaluate the progress of education in an increasingly technological world. I hope it will be illuminating.

I want to teach a film in Introduction to Literature. Technically, this has been a goal of mine for the previous three years, but I’ve never made it happen. This year, I think it will; I think I’ll be able to teach Arrival. But if that doesn’t work, I’d really like to teach another film. Film is the primary medium in which my students encounter Story, and so I think it’s important that they be able to interpret it.

I found taking online courses valuable for my professional development, so I would like to take at least one more online course this year.

Spiritual:

I want to memorize a book of the Bible, ideally 1 John. I found 1 John very encouraging and spiritually challenging last year; my hope is that in memorizing it, the words of Christ will abide more closely with me.

I also want to start following the church calendar. Reading Jamie Smith’s You Are What You Love articulated a lot of what I’ve been feeling about the importance of liturgies, of ritual and routine, in enriching life. I have friends on Facebook who follow the church calendar, observing not only Christmas but also Advent; not only Easter but also Lent. Such rituals seem to imbue the season with more beauty and meaning. My hope is that in following the church calendar, I will participate more wholly in the Christian story, and become more attuned to the presence of grace in my life.

My hope is to get following the church calendar underway by Lent, so I can participate in that, and then continue for the rest of the year. If I don’t manage to follow the full calendar, I at least want to establish some personal liturgies for my home, to enrich it spiritually.

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