"I would we were all of one mind, and one mind good." --Cymbeline, V.iv.209-210. An English teacher's log. Slow down: Check it once in a while.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Adult Course in Dante's Divine Comedy

I will be teaching Dante’s Divine Comedy on nine Tuesdays during the coming winter.

Join Dante’s journey through the physical and spiritual universe, which is also a journey through the self—body, heart, and mind—and through the three states of the afterlife, toward the beloved Beatrice. Travel from the depths of the vivid and terrifying Inferno (the hell of our own choices), up through the purifying stages of the Purgatorio (the mountain of our purification) , into the perfect spheres of Paradiso (the realm of our joy) toward the final vision of God. Discover the layers of meaning and the universal relevance of the greatest poem of medieval Christendom.

The course will meet at The Bishop’s School from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on the following nine Tuesdays:

November 1, 8, 15: Inferno
November 29, December 6, 13: Purgatorio
January 3, 10, 17: Paradiso

The cost for this nine-session course is $360 per person.

The course will use the John Ciardi translation (an easy-to-read American version of the poem with very good notes), which will be available in the School’s bookstore. Anyone who reads Italian is encouraged to use the Sinclair parallel text edition. (Other acceptable translations are those by Sayers, Musa, and Mandelbaum.)

If you need further information or would like to register for this course, contact

Suzanne Weiner
Director, Public Relations & Marketing
The Bishop's School
7607 La Jolla Boulevard
La Jolla, CA 92037-4799
Voice - direct line (858) 459-7950, Ext. 235
Voice: (858) 459-4021, Ext. 235
Fax: (858) 459-3914

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Power Point Peeve

Please see my earlier post for ways to contribute to the relief of victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Here’s my peeve about Power Point: Those who use it inevitably throw lists of words or phrases or bullet points or sentences up on the screen. We are expected to read them. But before we are given even a minute to read them at our own pace and so to make sense of them, the person doing the presentation, having nothing better to do while we are reading, begins to read them too, aloud, at a different pace from mine.

Suddenly I am thrown into brain fuzz. I can’t concentrate on the reading because it would be disrespectful to ignore the speaker. I can’t concentrate on the speaker because the speaker apparently expects me to read and absorb what is on the screen. When I try to do both, I find I can do neither, and so I begin to get frustrated. This leads to annoyance with the entire presentation, into which I direct my mind’s logical function to begin shooting fatal holes. Result? The Power Point presentation has made another enemy.

Why can’t people who are determined to use this ingenious technological device just be quiet and give me a sec to read on my own in order to be ready for them? Or why, if they’ve given me a chance to do that, must they waste their time and mine with reading to me what I’ve just read when they could be taking the opportunity to be developing, expanding, deepening the point?

Could it be that when Power Point is in use, there IS no other point? Is the medium the only message? The result is not education, intellectual enhancement, or wisdom. It is brain fuzz. Do they know this? Maybe they are really up to something else entirely while I am agonized or stupefied in my seat. Is Power their Point?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

To My Advisees, Class of 2006

Please see my previous post for ways to contribute to the relief of victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The following verse was written on the spur of the moment one early morning at camp.

To My Advisees, Class of 2006

Each weekday morning I advise
Some fourteen students, whose bright eyes
Seem to ignore the graybeard there
Whose dumb computer holds his stare
Till he records their presence. Then,
Taking in hand papers and pen,
He reads a verse from Psalms and tries
His sleepy charges to apprise
Of duties, schedules, meetings—facts
Meant to compose their full day’s acts—
Bids them Godspeed to face the day
That hurries them too soon away.

The days pile up until all meet
With peers upon Senior Retreat
To join in festive bonding where
Heat, hills, stars, sunscreen, and clear air
Combine with hearts to celebrate
The last year of their shared estate,
While their advisor, in weak rhyme,
Tries to articulate how time
That brings these dear souls to his ken
Will spirit them too soon away again.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Relief

Please help the victims of Hurricane Katrina by contributing. I have included links below to various organizations. Please pick one or more and send what you can.

United Jewish Communities' Humanitarian Relief Fund.

Chabad of New Orleans

B'nai Brith

Feed the Children

If you want to donate to help military families ruined by the hurricane, do so at Soldier's Angels.

If you have donated to help people and have a little more to give, please consider supporting the rescue and recovery of animals at Noah's Wish.

For an uplifting piece on America's response to the disaster, see Hugh Hewitt's post of today.

And for a site that shows how the blogosphere is mobilizing to help out, see N.Z. Bear's site at truthlaidbear. You may list your own contribution there and, if you have a blog yourself, join in the effort.

Thanks to everyone who is helping in whatever way you can.