Weekends

Weekends are not something I have thought about for much of my adult life. They were the times that I would go off to debate tournaments, the places where real education happened, the places where I could really feel like I was learning and doing something that mattered. Plus, they were really fun. It was a good time to try to do better than others in making good arguments. I rarely did very well, but I did do my best, or at least I felt like I did. Sometimes that can really make you feel pretty bad about yourself as you sit on the school bus rolling back home in the dark. 

Now that I'm older, weekends mean a lot more than that. They are the few days when I have absolute control over my schedule and can do what I like - or let my plans crumble apart as I have done this weekend. Yesterday I did mean to write a post, I really did - I spent the day out at Adelphi University for meetings and conversation with a great friend. One of the people that only debate can conjure up and push into your life. It was a great time. We met to discuss a series of debates we'd like to do here in the city. We got some work done and I got to enjoy trying to catch up on work in a different spot. Being out there makes me appreciate good workspaces, something that St. John's does not appreciate, and I don't think they ever will. Space is an afterthought here, something contractually obligated to provide - and little thought or attention is given to the idea of how it communicates purpose. I used to go up to my graduate student office frequently. Now that I am a tenured faculty member, I try to avoid my office at all costs. This is the difference in what space can say and mean.

Today I did some planning for a series of social justice debates that will happen at John Jay college and then again a month after at Morehouse in Atlanta. The debates are about the role and nature of prisons. This is good work - reading interesting books along with the students and trying to come up with some interesting and persuasive things to say from all points of view. It's giving me a lot of hope and ideas for when Argumentation becomes a core curriculum course in just 2 years. My public speaking class, in connection with a theology class that they are all a part of, is doing a debate as an assignment as well. Need to brush up on those readings so I can help them say what they would like, and most importantly, say it effectively.

The weekend has really changed for me. When I was a teenager it was the time to do exciting, fun debates and travel to exotic locations such as Plano, Texas, a whole hour and a half from where I lived. As a young adult, debate was the place to do the real work of education, to get the students away from the stifling high school and the people who called themselves teachers but were interested in disciplining minds and bodies to their own specifications. The weekend was a place of expansion and discovery, not trickery, subservience, and obedience like school. Now that I'm middle age, the weekend is a great respite from conformity to demands on my time - I can either bend time to my will, or, as I have been discovering recently, find great pleasure in letting time push me around a bit, doing one thing and then another, until I find myself tired and head off to bed. 

Tomorrow will be another such day except the British Debate tour rolls into town and I have to get them set up for their three days in the city. I'm still pretty sore that I only have 2 actual days with them, considering all that could have been planned - they won't even see my campus, for example, but I know the audience for the debate will be much better in Manhattan, and an audience is what debate students sorely need to practice argument.  I hoped to have written a bit about the final round from Montana, but the computer crashed before it was done rendering, so that will have to wait until another time.