Wednesday, March 31, 2010

library instruction for upper-level students

I worked with an upper-level Spanish class last week and since I thought that many of them had had some library instruction previously, I asked. Only 1 student had, so then I asked how many had used the Library Guides for doing research. A couple had. I asked the student who was closest to the front of the classroom if he would like to "drive" the computer and show us his research methods. He seemed shy but delighted, and did a wonderful job. I chimed in, and he also reminded me of some important elements. We used both his and other students' topics. I had more fun and the students seemed to pay attention.

Two weeks ago, I worked with the Photography senior thesis class. All of them had had library instruction previously, most with me. So I handed out a quiz which asked them to complete various tasks (based on the Photography Library Guide). I was amazed that none of them were able to complete all of the tasks "correctly" and all but 2 did not do well--I looked over each completed quiz as they finished. Then we went over the questions and answers (asking for their responses) and I reminded them of the research methods. I didn't feel very successful, but earlier this week, one of the students brought me a thank-you card signed by all of the class members, and said how helpful it had been. Hmmm. Food for thought--using a task-based assignment as a quiz to focus attention on the previous learning and present research needs.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Is it acting or does praxis become self?

Su Penn wrote in Tape Flags and First Thoughts, "I thought, ... God might transform me from a whining, self-pitying, over-sensitive complainer into someone with something meaningful to offer, an agent of grace." I empathize, and recognizing my wishful thinking, attempt to figure out where I'm at.

At one time I felt called to ministry and eldership. I felt connected spiritually, and blessed with the kind of wisdom that comes from being distanced from issues and not knowing people well. More typical now is a sense of struggling to establish connections, aggravation with everyone’s shortcomings (including my own—my neighbor as myself), and general gloominess. Often I have trouble settling in worship. I remember, “Be still and know that I am God.” I let myself drift. I think. I look out the window. I tried an anti-depressant but don’t like side-effects; it’s summer—I feel better when outside, I work with a therapist, and read.

Do the work. Impatient with what I term “Quaker chaos,” I took on the coordination of scheduling and training greeters and helping as needed. I try to post queries, announcements, and schedules on the blog and website calendar in a timely fashion. I ask for advice then try to tactfully address issues with individuals and in meeting for business. I wonder if I should offer to be the back-up to the recording clerk. I try to process my frustration with the chaos afterward and breathe through it during. Sometimes reading a bit of Friends Journal helps me center down and recall what this is all about. I try to recognize and talk about my feelings with my wife before they become a Big Thing.

I decided to try to learn a new kind of ministry: outreach—being welcoming (coming out of a shy and reserved self) and learning how to be strong and steady (while feeling quixotic and pessimistic). I like getting cards so am learning to write cards to those who have been bereaved, who are ill or suffering, or who are new to meeting. I don’t know if practice will help words come more easily or not, but the “Dear Abby” column is useful(!) in addition to my wife’s experience and wisdom.

Petting the cat. Playing with the cat. Being part of two CSAs. Exercising.

Is it acting, or does praxis become self?
“I am who I am becoming.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March 2010 Friends Journal

"Clashing with the “B” Word: Homophobia in Liberal Quakerism" by Alvin J. Figueroa was heartrending for my wife and I, as we experienced only love and support from our Meeting when we asked to be married under their care. I was especially astounded and appalled by Alvin's experience of liberal Friends using the Bible to oppress. How contradictory, ironic, and two-faced that seems to me. However, I have chosen to study the passages often quoted, in context of their surrounding text and the culture/time of their writing. I went to lectures, read essays, and made the effort to address the passages myself. How many of the liberal Friends in Alvin's current and former meetings have done so--especially those who used the passages in a hateful way instead of in love? How do their actions demonstrate "meeting that of God in everyone?"