January Term Preview: Teacher’s edition

The frantic flurry of filling out January course sign up sheets is finally over, and students and faculty can reflect on the daunting reality of a month full of electives. While the majority of the students are bubbling with excitement over the new freedom and exploration that the new year will bring, there are questions in the minds of some faculty. How will weeks worth of material be cut from already filled course plans? And what about midterms?

“It seems a bit hastily pulled together, without sufficient deliberation on the pedagogical rationale and the ways it impacts our existing curriculum,” said Bob Rhoades, who is offering a course on mass incarceration.  “That said, I have a very open mind and certainly understand the creativity, energy and excitement it can bring to our academic program for both faculty and students.”

“January term is providing more student choice, broadening the curriculum offerings, and giving more time for teachers and students to study together –which gives January Term a sound pedagogical underpinning,” said Chris Singler who is organizing the program.

As far as classes offered, Malik Mubashshir, who is teaching a class on 007, explained the three different James Bond interpretations: “The first is a ‘modern morality tale’ with a new modern set of seven deadly sins. The next author sees it as a gnostic parable about the journey of the soul, and the third author sees them as a thinly veiled conspiracy theory and an expóse of of British intelligence during the cold War.”

Poetry lover Connie Thompson is delighted to delve into the masterpieces of Robert Frost and Mary Oliver. She hopes to have “student centered, interactive classes”, with a “serious exploration of the poems, but more playful than a normal class setting.” Her plan is to have a fun, interactive final project, with lots of creative options, “not just a final paper.” She added, “I know it’s winter, but we’ll also take a hike in the woods for students to explore nature, as both poets did, looking for some observation that might spark their own poem, imitating the two poets’ creative work.”