Thursday, March 1, 2007

Speaking of navels... (a new word)

Two posts ago, I wrote something about the overcontemplation of our Anglican navel, and lo and behold, into my inbox lands my Word-A-Day word (which I don't always have time to look at) and the word for today, March 1, means "contemplation of one's navel." Here it is. (As I say to my students in class, "Fancy word alert!")


On the more poignant side of word-learning: I found one of the adult students (not mine) weeping in the classroom next to my office because she didn't understand one of the words on her course evaluation form. (She was in a course taught by a colleague from another department which is an "intensive" ending this week, before spring break, so they were already at the evaluation stage.) The word was "aspect," as in "What were the best aspects of the course?"

Another word episode: We are beginning the study of the Rule of St. Benedict. A first-year student, male, age 19 or so, asks me this a.m. in class what the word "contemplation" means.

Midterms corrected. Grades all in. Good night.


Anonymous said...

Your students are so lucky to have you as a teacher.
And it is always daunting - evocative - humbling to remember what it requires of each of us, in such varying ways at different ages, to come to terms with words and what they mean. I recently have been reflecting on "apocrypha" and "disambiguate" as two especially potent words, from my perspective!

Jane R said...

Thanks! Funny, I just explained "apocrypha" to one of my classes the other day, in one of its specific meanings and in the context of a discussion on biblical matters. We have to do a lot of "101" here -- even in a class that's not 101, because you can't talk about certain subjects --e.g. biblical interpretation in African American churches or Jewish feminist theology-- without some background in others --basics about the Bible or basic info about Judaism. I'm giving a paper at SECSOR --the regional AAR-- two weeks hence called "The College IS the Public: Promoting Religious Literacy with Race, Gender, and Sexuality." It's a pedagogical paper.

Thanks for your personal note too, Anonymous. Now I know who you are. :-)

janinsanfran said...

Rebecca's students were stumped last week by the question "Name one of the ancients Kant is referring to." They could not fathom "ancients." Poor things, they'd probably have trouble with "fathom" too. I don't think I'd have the patience you teachers have.

Jane R said...

Hey Jan -- Just saw this comment of yours. (Note: I just linked a recent post of yours to my blog, see World Water Day March 22.) Yes, it does take patience! Oddly, I have patience for teaching but not for other things, like shoddy administration. So this must be a real vocation, though I can't say I don't lose my patience there sometimes. But it's much easier for me to be patient with a student who doesn't know something or is having trouble understanding something than it is for me to stay calm in the face of managerial incompetence at any level, or poor customer service.