old chick, new tri^H^H^H flips?

My classes for this term begin next week. Monday? Systematic theology, part two. Tuesday and Thursday? Presbyterian polity.

[pol-i-tee] noun, plural polities.
1. a particular form or system of government:
civil polity; ecclesiastical polity.
2. the condition of being constituted as a state or other organized community or body:
The polity of ancient Athens became a standard for later governments.
3. government or administrative regulation:
The colonists demanded independence in matters of internal polity.
4. a state or other organized community or body.

I have always found it deeply whimsical that my beloved worshiping community defines itself less as a collection of doctrine (or dogma!) but more as a way of operating together. Belief is one thing, an important thing!, but we also gotta get stuff done.

That said, the chief book I’m to be reading for class is called The Book of Order. In literary flavor, it’s like reading the Constitution of the United States of America, and then moving on for a helping of the Code of Laws of the United States of America. Not gonna lie, I’m daunted even though this is one of classes I most want to take.

I also forgot the part where it’s a third-year class and I’m first-year-ish. That’ll work out, though, because that has more to do with the number of papers assigned and the writerly expectations for said papers.

What’s truly new, however, is that my prof is running this as a “flipped” class. Our lectures are all recorded; our face-time is reserved for discussion. I’m familiar with the concept—and am (philosophically) a fan—but I’ve never been around one in real life. For example, B’s middle school adopted this approach for algebra the year after she finished. Not that being proximate would give me any more edge than my nodding acquaintance with the pedagogy does-!

I am three segments (so, an hour-ish?) into the new-to-me experiment.
I find it difficult.
And I seldom find listening to an in-person speaker difficult.

One element, which may or may not turn out to be trivial:
my note-taking covers up half the video player. So I’m fussing with my digital notepad, fussing with the player, fuss fuss fuss, replay replay replay. Waste of time; waste of energy. I may end up running these lectures on two computers (one for video, one for notes), but that chains me to my house. We’ll see.

One element, which seems large but may fade with time:
Staring at the screen requires more of my energy than absorbing words in the classroom. Corollary: when I fade out of a video, I lose things I need; when I tune out in a room with a lecturer, I retain enough to gather up those parts I was about to drop.

Still, this is a most disheartening aspect. Right now I’m spending an additional quarter of each given lecture pausing, replaying, going back, going forward-ish. And all of it consuming more energy than I’m used to… it feels as if I have zero flow.

Which may be why I feel as if it’s a struggle through molasses to stay engaged! This latter part may be as much the instructor’s video demeanor as anything else, too. One experience is not a dataset. But I’m not used to bringing my tech-seminar fragmented self to graduate school. Back in my system administrator days, I counted it money well spent if I picked up 20 minutes worth of things I didn’t know (had to pay attention to) in a seminar-day’s worth of things I did know…and consequently mentally checked out of.

Plus, even then that wasn’t (isn’t) how I like to learn. I may come across as an interrupting know-it-all, but I’d really rather be so out of my depth that I hang on every word.

I don’t know this stuff. But I can’t seem to hang on, either!?

We’ll see. We’ll see. It’s early days. (Or so I’m telling myself-!)

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