Saturday, February 27, 2016

Random ramblings

No, I'm not dead.  Just...yeah.

A week ago Thursday, I had the appointment with the ear/nose/throat specialist...then got sick with a mild, short lived bout of something that had me aching all over and spiking a fever, but fine the next day.  

This week alone has been horrifically busy: the kids were out on Friday (but I wasn't).  I arranged with my mother in law to meet her at the halfway point between their house and ours, and hand the imp off for a couple days' overnights.  Then Friday morning, I ran the pixie up to my mom's before busting ass to get to my classroom in time to hold class. 

We had a parent-teacher conference with the imp's teacher on Thursday.  She says he will be thoroughly ready for 1st grade this fall.  The pixie's teacher said that she didn't feel a conference was particularly needed at this point, so...yeah.

Today, we buzzed around getting a few things, looking around at a few things (like the baby chicks, ducklings, and guinea fowl at a nearby farm supply store), then Odysseus went to the halfway point to snag the imp.  I managed to get the dishes done (well, loaded--the imp actually put the soap in and started the dishwasher for me). 

Tomorrow?  Last Monday was Odysseus's birthday.  We'll be going up to my mom's so she and my sister can stuff him with pork roast sandwiches, butter and herb potatoes, and chocolate cake. 

The cats have been...well, cats.  Cricket's still nervous and jittery, but incredibly affectionate, and Shadow's still fat and lazy.  Shadow is currently curled up sleeping on the imp.  Cricket's as still as I ever see her, stretched out sleeping on the arm of the couch.

So far the semester has been rather...uneventful.  The students are better writers than last semester, with a few exceptions that aren't so bad as to be notable.  They've reassured me a few times that they love the idea I had to change up the class.

Over the past several years, English departments nation wide have started complaining that the rest of the university seems to think they're...irrelevant.  Horrible thought, I know.*  Part of the reason, I think, is because of how we teach writing: English departments seem to think it's adequate, timely, and relevant to all majors to teach research papers...done only in MLA format. 

I don't agree.  The only departments on campus that use MLA are English and foreign languages.  No one else.  Social sciences use APA, history and journalism use CMS, and the hard sciences use some variation of CSE.**  What are we doing to help the students majoring in other disciplines write better in their own? 

Not much.

I'm trying to change that in my class.  This semester, I'm teaching three research papers--one each in MLA, APA, and CMS.  Next semester, I'll add CSE to that. 

Right now, I'm trying to rewrite my textbook.  I've gotten some of it done, and gotten most of the chapter over how to do an APA paper done.  I still lack an explanation of the different parts of an APA paper, and the sample essay.***

Unfortunately, with the textbook, I've not had time to more than rough out one of the handwritten drafts for one of the stories.  All of my writing time has been focused on trying to fix things for my students, with regards to teaching them what they actually need to know.

*Not really.  As it just so happens, it's actually true.  English departments that do what mine is doing--shoving writing instruction off onto the other majors to teach to their own requirements--are more and more irrelevant.

**APA--American Psychological Association; CMS--Chicago Manual Style; CSE--Council of Science Editors

***Yes, I have to learn three new styles so I can write the chapter for them.  And so I can write a sample research paper actually using said style.  If anyone would like to offer me a persuasive paper in APA, CMS, or CSE for inclusion as a sample in my textbook for my students, leave me a comment with an email addy where I can contact you.


  1. Good luck with getting the text book done! How long after you do that will it take to get final approval?

    1. Hell with that--I write it and post it as a PDF doc on Blackboard for my students. They have to spend more than enough on textbooks for other classes. And having a textbook to point them toward makes my job easier.

      And my department heads love the idea that I do this. That means I don't use any of the copy budget.

  2. Thanks for the acronym explanations.

    All the papers I ever wrote were just double-spaced "normal" format (like writing a book or magazine article), and done on a MANUAL Smirh Corona that was my sisters.

    1. Hmm...did you cite your sources in the paper, or with a superscript number leading to either foot notes or end notes, plus bibliography?

    2. Oh, yeah, we were required to give the sources of our research.

      I just used a note, like (1), and then had it at the bottom.

      The "appendix" also listed the sources.

      Since my "hand cranked" typewriter wouldn't sub or superscript notation, the teacher allowed me to do it that way.

    3. At the time you went through, that could have been any of them. :)

  3. Your students will appreciate you going the extra mile. I never had anyone explain anything other than MLA to me.

    1. I try. It isn't easy, because I'm learning the styles with them.