I feel like I just posted here, but clearly that's not true. Being here makes the time slip by so quickly. I'll sit down to do a simple task like grade or read something and hours will fly by. We'll arrive at the school for our teaching day and it will be 2PM before I know it. I hope the Moroccan students are experiencing the program a bit slower than we are. I regret not finding or forcing the time to update my thoughts at the conclusion of each day.
Aside from a lost (stolen?) phone, things have gone great. Probably one of my better programs overall. There are no judges, no teaching of format, no ballots, no wins, no losses, and no problems.
The tournament vernacular, a Burkean "trained incapacity" whispers here and there in the teaching of the students, but it's nowhere near as terrible as it could be. Mostly we are discussing arguments, positions, places, institutions in the world where controversies circulate. We have built in a lot of speaking, but several of the students have approached me to ask for more opportunities to practice speaking. I think this is a good sign.
Starting to believe that the best debating of the late 19th and early 20th century is going to be the best debating of the early 21st. Seems to me that this could be taken further - the debate club, or debate team, could be the "literary society," a very old school organization that has all but disappeared from the world, and is clearly extinct on American university campuses. These clubs were gatherings of intellectual-leaning students to share ideas, debate, argue, speak, and hang out together. They sound pretty good given the lack of intellectual development opportunities on our campuses. The salon is the old/new debate club. I think that attention to the local, campus community is a lot more valuable than spiriting away 4 people to argue about a topic to an empty classroom at 9AM on a Sunday.
These thoughts are mixed in with my reading, which I have found time to do even though I don't find time to write. I think it was Sergio Pitol or some other Mexican writer (perhaps even South American) that said, "Reading is more important than writing." Never believed it, and I also never thought it was important to make these sorts of judgements or differences, but today I'm in strong support of this enabling quote.
John McPhee's Draft No. 4 I thought was going to be a much different book. I'm happy with it, but it's just a bunch of vignettes about different stories he wrote and how he approached the order (dispositio) of the story. This seems somewhat boring, but it turns out that organization serves as a site of invention for the story. The question, "What is this about?" is answered in the way that chronological events are presented in a non-chronological way. It's really helpful for the drafting of a speech I'm working on at the moment, and the help is welcome but unexpected. Not sure about the total book (I'm only halfway through) but I'm pretty sure it's going to be all good. He is someone who thinks of writing as a craft where you are building something out of available parts in a context that you don't have a lot of control over. In this way it seems like a natural offshoot of the book Shopclass as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford.
Finally started Ghetto by Mitchel Duneier and over 40 pages in it's a great book. Reading it under the guise of assigning it to my senior seminar course in the spring. Not going to work - the book is great but doesn't get into the issues I need it to, at least not for a while. It does seem to have some application as he starts off with the great tease that the Ghetto is an example of scholars not looking at an event or a moment properly in order to draw conclusions from it. He details the history of the differences of the ghettos by region, time, and state, and pretty clearly shows (so far) that there are huge distinctions ignored by scholars. Might be relevant for a class on research method or on epistemology but seems like a lot to get there. We have other things to read and do too.
Ok so I wrote this post and tried to add images, no dice. The internet wants to fight me all the time here.
Just lost the post and had to retype it from my notes. That was great. In between then and now I walked around in the 40C heat looking for the post office. I'm a bit wiped out. I wonder if this post would be better with the images? I think this might be the primary reason, besides business, that the blog stayed pretty quiet this week.