Thursday, April 30, 2009

Courseblogging: Last things

Final presentations today. Or at any rate, I like to dignify this particular assignment by calling it a presentation, although it is really all very laid-back and more like a conversation. I brought cookies, and we all sat around in a circle and talked through the final papers-in-progress, fifteen minutes per paper, bouncing ideas off of others and comments from the audience highly encouraged.

I've done this with four different classes now, at all levels, and it never fails to be awesome. (Um, apart from that one student in my summer class who tried to write a paper about Beowulf when she'd only seen the movie, but we do not speak of that.) Most of the time, for most students, it's awesome -- they get to play the expert and lead discussion about a topic that really interests and engages them, and they usually get a whole slew of questions and comments that will, I hope, make the final papers stronger. And I don't have to do any class prep, which is, I must admit, a strong incentive to end the semester this way as much as possible.

I'm a little worried that only one of the projects actually seems to have a thesis at this point, but hopefully that will come. They all have interesting topics, at any rate, and they seem super-intellectually-engaged; the flaws and pitfalls I noticed in the presentations all have to do with being too ambitious, trying to write about Everything About King Arthur in Pop Culture Ever, or Everything About Chaucer and Boccaccio Ever. And having too much to say is better than having nothing to say, for sure.

I shall miss this group. This is the first class I've ever taught that wasn't a required course for anybody at all, and it's so nice to have students who have, every one of them, chosen to be here of their own free will.

As Van Morrison says, wouldn't it be great if it could be like this all the time?

1 comment:

Susan said...

Ooo, I've been doing presentations (3 classes, for a class of 14). And while some people sounded like they thought of their topic the night before, most of the presentations have been really good. A couple who were about to write the history of the universe, but heh, it's easy to narrow that down a little!
And yes, it's awesome to see them having fun.