Tuesday, 30 October 2012

First Principles Clarice ... Read Marcus Aurelius

Well, after the anti-climactic events of Eid, today's visit is brought to you by Thomas Harris and Meditations.  Despite the warnings of screaming livestock being slaughtered in the street and a bloodbath that would exceed the expectations for UFC pay per view (something) ... I really didn't notice that anything was happening that was out of the ordinary.  The only time that I realized something had happened that involved livestock was when I noticed my doorman selling a nicely cleaned lamb pelt to a local travelling merchant.  Oh, I did hear more mooing from the streets than normal, but none of the high-pitched wails followed by horror film pools of blood that I had expected.  So for me, there will be no more thoughts of fava beans and quid pro quo.

Well, I should be planning lessons; but, after a late night working at school, I needed a bit of down time.  Voila.  Ok, a slightly anticlimactic segue but it'll do the trick for now.  Overall, the classes went well today.  I had hoped for a lot more lesson planning time during my 5 day vacation, but exhaustion got the better of me. Somewhere around 6:30 last night I realized it was same stuff, different day - starting to plan 3 classes once the sun had set.
Never let the future disturb you.  You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.

So, the month of November has almost arrived.  During the obligatory late-work-night stroll from the school to the local store and back, I noticed the moon had turned a lovely reddish orange colour.  Although the size wasn't as large as the typical harvest moon in Ontario, the sight brought back memories of fall at home.  Strangely enough, it also conjured up thoughts of the opening of the 6th seal ... but given the impossibility of the sun ever turning to darkness here, those Revelations were short lived.
The universe is change.  Life is your perception of it.

The weather has gotten much cooler here.  Yes, everything is relative, especially in light of the daytime high of 12º that is being enjoyed in the Thorold area, but overnight temperatures of 19º are significantly cooler than the sweltering daytime highs of 42º that stressed my pores when I got here.  My cooling method of choice has changed from air conditioner to open window and, as I walked to the bus this morning, I realized that the weather had finally turned comfortable.  (later review ... I must have been tired - 'turned comfortable' is an odd grammatical construction)
Begin each day telling yourself:  Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will and selfishness - all of them due to the offenders' ignorance of what is good or evil.

So yes, my students returned today.  Ok, most of my students returned today.  As with all holidays and extended weekends, many students undergo a painful change from Epicurean joy to Stoic attendance.  Some students helped their personal transitions by staying at home (likely due to the lingering ill effects of late nights and just-in-time meals).  Other students showed up sporting an aura of "anywhere but where I am now."  But, to their credit, most of them returned to school with a relatively positive outlook.  I made sure that my lessons today were relatively short to accommodate the frequent "what did we do over the holiday," and "what were we doing before the holiday" lines of questions.  
Humans have come into being for the sake of each other, so either teach them, or learn to bear them.

Yes, I've decided that as part of my stress avoidance regime, my occasional grumpy teacher self is going to stay in my back pocket far more often.  Somewhere along the way to my break, I definitely started to lose my sense of humour.  Were my high volume discussions warranted ... yeah, but I can't say they reflect who I am,  nor are they part of my "who I want to be as a teacher" paradigm.  So today, I opted for the route of acceptance.  I recognize that tossing them a larger share of their learning responsibility will likely impair their success in my class.  I also recognize that they won't be terribly excited when my prophecies of difficulties come true.  But, until they recognize that my student-centred performances will help their grades more than their personal conversations, I feel too often that I'm fighting an uphill battle.  Ask the Danes ... this approach didn't work out to well for them in 1066 and, if nothing else, I try to remain a student of history. Hopefully, the brief hiccup that they enjoy/suffer will be short-lived ... otherwise, there will be some extremely stressed out students come finals.
Do what you will.  Even if you tear yourself apart, most people will continue doing the same things.

Well, time to get back to lesson planning.  It's really not as bad as Marcus portrays it.  And it could be worse ... I could've used quotations from Augustine's confessions.

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