Thursday, January 22, 2004

Where to Aim
Having taught at Xavier for almost three years now, I have a pretty good idea where to aim when deciding how much depth we can cover. This of course differs greatly between 1000 level and 2000-3000 level courses. In a 1000 level course, there are at times students who would be top-notch students at Ivy League schools, and students who would have a had a hard time passing my highschool. The gap narrows considerably by the time they are Juniors (or near that level) taking 2000 level courses. This semester, I am teaching one course on the Pentateuch to M.A. students at Loyola University in New Orleans. It seems to be a remarkable school, and last week was my first lecture. I'm not sure though at what level I should be aiming. There are some M.A. students in there, and some undergrads, though everyone seems very bright. It is unusual for me because these are students who want to take the class, not because they have to take the course as part of their core curriculum. So, I'm finding my way slowly. While PowerPoint style lectures work best for me teaching students who aren't so interested at Xavier, as the visual images and movie clips help keep them entertained, I'm not sure they are so good for M.A. level students. Tonight I think I'll try a bit of both. I think I'll use PowerPoint for my lecture about the history of writing and the alphabet. But with some ancient texts we read, such as Sinuhe, Tale of Two Brothers, Gilgamesh, Descent of Ishtar and Kirta, I think we'll have a more traditional discussion. The problem is leading discussions is not my forte. We shall see how it turns out. The class size is small, about 10, which is also a huge plus.


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