Tuesday, May 21, 2019

More stress letters (including mine) and some blog posts

Three letters: The first reflects on college pressures, junior year stress, and the need to for humanities-oriented students to value their choices as much as students who pursue STEM fields; the second contemplates the pressure students feel at Uni, and the ways that social tensions can also create stress; the third explores the challenges of balancing school, college process, extracurricular, and work stress.

One letter, an open letter to Uni students from "a strapping senior lad"

One letter that reflects on the limitations of our experiments in the Utopias-Dystopias class, particularly the way Uni's grade-conscious culture has (in this writer's opinion) stifled some of the more interesting possibilities a class like ours could open up. 

Several of you also touched on stress in your blogs this quarter. If you haven't yet, check out Minji's post about how the arbitrary measures of success we're often asked to strive for contribute to her stress (and probably others among us, as well). Betsy also wrote a blog post about how the pressures of Uni students' schedules can get in the way of engaging in the writing process (and other long-term project work) and getting enough sleep. And Kristine wrote about how stress affects her performance in academics, athletics, and other areas.

As I read your stress letters, I began to think about writing a stress letter of my own to share with you. Ironically, I've been too overwhelmed and busy (stressed?) to do that with the care and attention I would want to. But, in responding to one student's letter by email, I ended up writing a sort of stress letter of my own without really intending to. So I'm sharing that with you, if you're interested.

Also, if you care to revisit it, here's a file with the ideas for reducing stress I shared a couple weeks ago, with a few short additional messages added at the end.

Friday, May 17, 2019

The first few stress letters

Here are a few of the letters that you and/or your classmates wrote about their stress. I'll be posting more Monday and Tuesday.

One file with three letters (The first focuses in part on the workload at Uni, the way competition between students exacerbates stress, and the added pressure of feeling the responsibility to help classmates with work when teachers move ahead and not everyone understands the material. The second also considers the tremendous workload this student has managed at Uni and the ways it has changed them as a person, wondering whether it was really worth it. The third writer offers advice to themselves on how to manage their own high expectations, stress arising from social relationships, and procrastination.)


Another file with two letters (The first is largely focused on time management and offering self-advice for dealing with procrastination and less-than-ideal time budgeting. The second writer offers a variety of supportive and realistic suggestions for reducing their own stress.)


Another file with one letter, which focuses largely on the need to ask for help and reach out for support.



Course evaluation

Please take the course evaluation poll. Your feedback really matters to me, and it will affect the way I plan and teach this class next time. Thank you!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Quick write and small group discussion for Parable though ch. 23


  1. In your journal, come up with one discussion question: What question about Parable of the Sower do you most want to talk about that we haven't touched on at this point?
  2. Briefly answer this question: Would Lauren, Bankole, and company take anyone on at this point? What kind of person/people do you think they wouldn't take on (if any)?


Write for six minutes, and then discuss your discussion questions and question #2 in groups of 2, 3, or 4 for about ten minutes. 

Also, if you've seen The Matrix and have an idea for a question or issue to consider while we watch, note it in our working doc

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Quick journal writing for Parable, chapters 19–22

Look through the chapters we read for today with the following questions in mind, and then answer the questions briefly but specifically:

  • What aspect of or development in this chapter did you react most strongly to, either negatively or positively (or a mix)?
  • The group takes on a total of four new people. Do they all make sense as travellers to join up with? Who makes sense, who doesn't, and why?
  • What do Lauren and Bankole have in common? In what ways are they quite different?