Weekend Reflections

This fall’s first-year comp groups are getting off to a really good start. Nobody seems to have flaked out utterly on paper one, and so far the discussions of Plato have been quite good. We launch into the Republic this Tuesday, and I’m excited to take this group through it.

In conversation with Mary this week I realized why I’ve enjoyed teaching Plato even more than I have teaching Hebrew Bible in 1102. It’s not the text at hand; both are fun texts to teach. It’s the differences between the populations, and it’s nobody’s fault particularly. In 1101, I get almost exclusively first-semester college students, and they’re ready to get groovin’ on some college-level thought. Nothing could suit that better than Plato; with Plato one must simultaneously hold loosely to one’s assumptions and remain steadfast in the pursuit of genuine goodness, beauty, and truth. That’s the stuff of college, methinks.

On the other hand, when we do Hebrew Bible in the spring, we’re dealing with texts with which many of the students are already familiar. I get a fair number of people who tested out of 1101 and resent having to take 1102. I get a fair number of people who are taking freshman classes as 21-year-olds. That’s not to say that the class can’t be good; it’s just to say that I’ve got to work harder, and I’m going to hit more dead spots there. Those aren’t unqualifiedly bad things; they’re just realities.

In the larger world, another family values politician has been caught (apparently) soliciting anonymous sex, Michael Vick pled guilty to dogfighting, and I keep my nose buried in books for comprehensive exams. I think I need to read some Vonnegut. Good thing book group is right now.

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