Scholastic Stuff -- 08/29/03

Friday Five

1. Are you going to school this year?
I'm not sure. I have not signed up for any courses -- partly because the next two weeks are going to be very busy for me -- even though changes in my job mean I will probably not have to worry about missing classes due to business travel. Maybe spring semester -- maybe an art course. However, this fall I might take some work-related courses, which might involve some travel.

Jeremy is starting college and Jill is continuing in college, switching to a different school. Nancy doesn't need any courses at the moment but she might take a graduate education course if it is given locally.

2. If yes, where are you going (high school, college, etc.)? If no, when did you graduate?
I once posted a detailed description of my education. Short form answer here: Kingston (NY) High School class of 1961; C.W.Post College 1961-63 social psychology major, changed schools/majors; SUNY at New Paltz 1963-65 BA English, 1966-70 part time grad study English and education; Binghamton University 1970-72 English doctoral program (drop-out), 1977-83 MS Systems Science; Syracuse University 1990-92 part time grad study information systems management; Broome Community College various courses ranging from C and Ada to watercolor painting to operations management; University of Rhode Island 1996 grad study adult education; Roger Williams University 1999 certified professional trainer. Oh, yeah, and many computer-related technical training courses (from IBM, Sun, CA, Rational, etc.).

3. What are/were your favorite school subjects?
I'm tempted to say that it depended more on the instructor than on the subject -- I have enjoyed many literature courses (after all, I once majored in it; but I also disliked some of those courses); I also tend to enjoy history courses and art courses and computer courses.

4. What are/were your least favorite school subjects?
Physical Education. But Jim, you may say, you love to run in races and you enjoy biking and hiking and working out, how could you not enjoy physical education courses. Well, back in the day, phys ed courses tended to be "taught" by incompetent jerks. (Even today, more than four decades later, I could quickly work up a rant about those sad, sagging, pot-bellied ex-jocks...) When Adam was in high school -- and was a real jock, did four years of track, four years of cross-country and three years of swim team -- I thought that maybe phys. ed. teaching had improved. Nope. He told me that he couldn't stand phys. ed. (In fact, he almost didn't graduate because of cutting phys. ed. classes to do extra work in the darkroom for his photography classes.)

5. Have you ever had a favorite teacher? Why was he/she a favorite?
I have had several favorite teachers over the years. My first grade teacher was a dedicated teacher who had taught my parents and who, when she finally had to retire from the public school system because of age restrictions, immediately began teaching in a Catholic elementary school. My sixth grade teacher was wonderful; she was a good teacher and she was very good to me (I am sure she was responsible for me getting the much coveted job of milk monitor.) I had a really good high school biology teacher and an English teacher, but my senior year civics teacher was my favorite. In college I had a first-rate writing teacher at C.W.Post and three excellent literature professors at New Paltz. I also studied under some really good people at Binghamton University. All of these were truly fine teachers.

If I had to single out one teacher, however, as my favorite, I would probably pick Don Gause, who taught the single most valuable course I have ever taken -- "Heuristic Problem Solving" (Oh, an entire entry could be devoted to talking about the marvelous things in that course -- let me just hint at his slightly unorthodox methods by noting that for the final class meeting of the semester we hiked to the top of a mountain in the Catskills to hold class.). One of Don's books (Are Your Lights On? -- How to Figure Out What the Problem Really Is -- co-authored with Gerald Weinberg) is a delightful book to read as well as being insightful and useful. I could just go on and on praising this guy.

You may have noticed that in answering the first question above I referred to my college-age children as Jeremy and Jill rather than as "Sean" and "Jennifer" as I had been doing for almost seven years now (less than one month to the 7th anniversary of this journal). My daughter emailed me one day this week -- I think after reading about our quick trip into Manhattan last weekend -- and commented that she didn't think she looked like a "Jennifer" nor did she feel like one -- in fact, she thought she looked and felt like a "Jill" so if I wouldn't mind, maybe I could switch names for her here. Back in '96, in my first entry, I used their real names -- Gillian and Jeremy -- but when I had posted it she asked me to change her name so I picked a name (Jennifer) with the same initial sound (Gillian is pronounced as if spelled Jillian, hence, Jill) and since I did that for her, I also changed Jeremy to Sean (which came to mind quickly because Sean is his middle name). So, okay, it will be less confusing for me (I think) to switch to using their real first names; after all, I've always done that with my older son Adam and for my wife Nancy and so forth.

I'm using a vacation day to make this a four day weekend (Monday being our Labor Day holiday) -- I did bring my laptop and some work home with me and perhaps at some point over these four days I may do a little bit of work (just to make life easier on myself during the days following) but mostly I plan to relax and enjoy myself on this last true weekend of summer (and despite what the calendar may say, schools are reopening and the summer season is ending).

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