February 4th

Podcasting/US History/English 3

There’s a terrific book by an old friend about what it means to be an adjunct, Fight for your Long Day.  That life — traveling place to place, not having a secure position, working on the whim of a Dean — is a hard life. While I’m an adjunct (actually my formal title is Lecturer B), I’m not dependent on that position. And I do it to study with terrific undergrads and maybe inspire a few of them to come work with me in urban schools.

But most high school rosters, particularly at places where the schedule moves or cascades, will have a long day. Thursday is my tough day this year, where I’m teaching the entire day straight. And I teach three different classes on Thursdays: Intro to podcasting, American History, and English Three.  The variety is a good thing; shifting gears three times, not so much.  By the time I get to English Three, I’m usually a bit punch drunk and have to make sure nothing inappropriate comes out of my mouth.   

Podcasting has been an awesome course this year. The kids have created some cool pieces. I’m not an audio engineer, much as I’d like to be one, but teaching technical skills over zoom to kids using five or six different audio editing programs, some web-based and some software, isn’t easy. Or fun. Or feasible.  If I can finish the year with a few cool downloads, it’ll be a success.   Right now we’re finishing up this idea of transitions and we’ll eventually have something I’ll publish here.   

American history was next. I’m working to set the stage, to set up an assessment that’s still unformed, even if I had a great idea while walking for what this will eventually look like.  We had a good conversation about the different ways one pursues truth as an individual and how historians do it. Then we turned to the uses of truth and compared these two paragraphs:  

Out of slavery — and the anti-black racism it required — grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional: its economic might, its industrial power, its electoral system, its diet and popular music, the inequities of its public health and education, its astonishing penchant for violence, its income inequality, the example it sets for the world as a land of freedom and equality, its slang, its legal system and the endemic racial fears and hatreds that continue to plague it to this day. The seeds of all that were planted long before our official birth date, in 1776, when the men known as our founders formally declared independence from Britain.   (1619 project introduction). 

The declared purpose of the President’s Advisory 1776  Commission is to “enable a rising generation to understand the history and principles of the founding of the United States in 1776 and to strive to form a more perfect Union.” This requires a restoration of American education, which can only be grounded on a history of those principles that is “accurate, honest, unifying, inspiring, and ennobling.”  And a rediscovery of our shared identity rooted in our founding principles is the path to a renewed American unity and a confident American future. (1776 Presidential Commission, hyperlink no longer exists.)  

The prompt on this Jamboard was to consider how each of these projects envisioned truth and the pursuit of truth.  

Favorite comments:  

This person is looking at the impact and the roots of what America is. They are looking through a lens of why we are the way that we are, and that’s where the truth lies.


They want to look at truth more as a tool almost, something to unify and inspire the future. They look at the past as events to learn about to inspire the future, less like causes more like inspiration. 

(Both from J.). 

Onto English Three where I continued to launch our reading of Gatsby.  We processed their understandings of the American Dream. As they’re going to start reading this weekend, I wanted to set up the opening line. (I also had to explain that the first chapter is the waiting room on a roller coaster — anxiety and confusion and uncertainty — and the next two chapters will be the click-click on the way to the top.  Then the novel takes off.  I don’t know… there’s a trickiness to this first chapter, I think, and I have to help them get started and remind them that they’ll be coming back to this chapter as the book goes on.).  

Anyway, this activity turned out well: first line of the novel followed by by bits of advice offered to water stream by their elders.  

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

Look at your mistakes as a learning opportunity
put your money in your sock so if someone steals your bag you won’t be broke
everyone looks better with lipstick
nobody is meant to complete you
nothing is free
There is no right choice in life. It’s all a trade-off. Just depends how much you get screwed over. 
don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good
there’s always going to be people that you don’t like in life
have a safe for your money but only put half in. hide the rest in random places so if you’re robbed you wont be broke
Keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle for the full duration of the ride
it takes two to tangle
holding grudges is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die
cross the street like the cars are trying to hit you. 
Always look at both sides of the story

“Whenever you feel  like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” 

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