Wow has it been that long since I wrote anything? I feel ashamed.
It's not like I've just been goofing off during this time. Although writing here is a nice way of generating a false sense of productivity.
After recovering from the jet lag, I surveyed the published conference proceedings that all participants were given at the Japanese Debate Association conference. There are some good things in there. I sort of wish now I had taken the time to revise my paper and submit it. On the plus side, now I am motivated to revise it and send it out for publication to a journal, so that's a nice benefit.
I also completed writing both of my syllabi for class this fall, which begins in 7 days. That's right, only one week left before the start of the new semester. On the 26th we are having meetings all day to prepare the new students, old students and new and old faculty for the upcoming year.
Between now and then I need to: Mail off my dissertation draft, create the debate team schedule for the year, photocopy and scan a ton of readings for my courses, put a few library books on reserve (assuming that the library will be functioning when school opens; it had been closed for renovations and collection shifting all summer!), and finally make sure I have everything in order for the first debate meeting.
I am also a terrible friend, and I have a couple of emails that deserve careful response waiting on me. One is something I take quite seriously and that is syllabus commentary/critique. The other is just as serious - it's providing a bib/reading list for someone entering graduate studies in a couple of weeks.
I would like to write a post reflecting on syllabus writing practices, so I might work on that as well. I think reviewing the syllabus might make me have to articulate some assumptions and practices that I don't often articulate.
For now, I think the most important part of a syllabus is generating the questions that the class will explore and attempt to satisfactorily answer. It doesn't matter if they end up unanswerable; what matters is the exploration and perhaps the questions that are generated from the questions. Sometimes the questions are re-worded at the end of the course. All of these are successful outcomes, in my view.
Now that I've typed all of this up, I feel the stress levels increasing. I'm off to work, and I hope as the tornado of the opening of the semester hits that I won't be such a stranger to this blog!