Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I forget that one of the best side effects of publishing an essay (knowing it's really finished is, of course, the best side effect of all) is hearing from those who read it -- on this blog, through WCenter and in email. Thanks all. This morning I woke to an email from a colleague. She had attached a paper written by a student who brings "Tick-Tock, Next" together with Nancy Atwell's "Making Time," a connection I wouldn't have thought of and am thrilled to see. The student writer quotes Atwell, who writes "I’ve made some discoveries too. I have learned that by giving students more time to learn reading, I’ve given myself more time to teach reading."

Yesterday, on WCenter, Karl Fornes posted the blog where he and his staff write. I loved looking at that blog which is more like a discussion or a journal with occaisonal pleas for help to nobody in particular (but obviously to everyone else in the writing center). The tutors describe great writing center rhythms from right within them -- being the only tutor on with a number of waiting students or being in the midst of a conference that will likely be long. I'm intrigued most of all by its Seinfeld-esque not much is happening but everything is happening feel. What would we all write about, I wonder, if we took the time to think about those periods when nothing at all seems to happen in the writing center? What's happening, I might ask in that open-ended qualitative way, over these first weeks of the writing center when almost no names fill the appointments? Something, but what?


Here are two "time" journals I've learned about:

Time and Society


At 5:39 AM, Blogger Tamara Miles said...

Those "time" journals look fascinating. The one clock on the wall in our writing studio says ten minutes past one all the time. There is something to be said for consistency. :>) Fortunately, we have eighteen computers that each display the time. I like knowing what time it is, and I think it actually improves my consultations with students because I can more easily pace our work.

At 6:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Over the break, I spent a snowy afternoon poking around on the web for a three-minute timer to use in our writing center. This was prompted by my sense, both in random observations of tutorials and in individual discussions with tutors, that time in sessions had a snowball effect--as it proceeds, it gathers mass and rolls faster and faster down the hill. Maybe that's an avalanche, I don't know.

My search yielded some interesting possibilities, including one timer shaped like an egg whose yolk appeared to drip and ooze as the seconds ticked by. I like that one, but it was out of stock. Such is shopping on the internet. I don't know what it says about me that everything I want to buy is discontinued by the time I look for it.

Anyway, I settled on a pretty standard 3-minute hourglass, with the sand that trickles slowly from top to bottom, just like the old intro (maybe it's still the intro) from Days of Our Lives. I never watched that soap opera (though there will always be a special place in my heart for All My Children), but that hourglass always meant that it was time to bug my mother to take me to the pool.

In our staff meeting on Sunday, the tutors and I talked about how to use the timer during sessions. My sense is, my hope is, that it will, ironically, help them to slow down time. That sand drains nearly grain by grain, and three minutes winds up looking like a lot. For our March staff meeting, we'll be discussing Anne's article and talking about what our 3-minute experiments yield.

--Beth Boquet

At 8:21 AM, Blogger Tamara Miles said...

Beth wrote, "that hourglass always meant that it was time to bug my mother to take me to the pool." When I read that, I had a flood of summer and soap opera memories myself. That hourglass is vivid in my mind.

Today, I was working with a student who is preparing to write about Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find," and we had settled on a thesis related to the grandmother's transformation and the steps she went through to achieve it. In our discussion, we focused heavily on that moment (why do we same "in time," as if there were any other place for moments?) --- when the grandmother's head clears for an instant and she sees the Misfit's pain and his and her own need for mercy. In order to make the emotional impact more real, the student and I talked about scenes from movies in which a character is about to do something really bad (against his conscience) but is compelled to do it. I offered the example of Matt Damon's character in The Talented Mr. Ripley, who cries the whole time he is strangling his friend and erstwhile lover. Then I showed the first 3-4 minutes of a film I happened to have handy: The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca, in which the unbearably beautiful Andy Garcia plays Lorca. The opening scene shows Lorca reciting a poem called "Five in the Afternoon," at times nearly breaking down in sobs, at times raging and heart-broken. He repeats "at 5 in the afternoon" at the end of each line, and at one point we see a clock face with that time showing. There are shadowy transitions between Lorca's face and scenes from the Spanish Civil War --- dead bodies, crying women, etc. It all began, Lorca cries out, at that one moment at 5 in the afternoon. The student and I were both moved by the performance, and he said, "that's deep." I think he got the picture and will be more able to emphasize the moment of transformation in "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

At 9:37 AM, Blogger theorris said...

I've been thinking a lot about time since reading your piece when WCJ arrived in my mail box yesterday. Now I know there will be lots of folks gasping outloud at what I am about to say next, but we have 30 minute appointments in our writing center, and I sometimes wonder if it is too rushed (even though I still think that too much can be covered in a longer session.) I've noticed that a lot of folks in the morning are much more rushed and want to get things done more quickly--while in the afternoon they take their time. Our stats bare this out: morning sessions are much quicker than afternoon ones. I wonder if we need to consider some sort of cycadian (is that the right word) rhythm to the appointment? Is it appropriate to have longer afternoon ones and shorter ones during the morning?

Then again, perhaps all sessions should be 60 minutes, thus slowing down the morning folks who "want to get things done" and may not be taking the time to pay attention--and the power dynamic you mention on "Tick Tock" perhaps is too decidedly tutor-sided.

Hmm. I'm trying to recall my rationale for the 30 minute appointment way back when: "As Sand through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives."

At 10:25 AM, Blogger Tamara Miles said...

What you were looking for is circadian -- but it's so cool that you used a version of the insect "cicada" (cycadian) because that brings to mind fantastic images of ideas in the writing center swarming like the cicadas. Also, the cicada apparently emerges cyclically (there is a swarm of one particular variety every seventeen years or some such). It's the same with writing inspiration. So, I think "cycadian rhythm" is perfect for writing center consultations. :>)

See below.




At 12:21 PM, Blogger Roberta Kjesrud said...

Yipes! All this talk of epochal time calls attention to the fact that I grew up in a blog-free epoch. Dunno if I can get the hang of this.

Here's my question: Are there more kinds of time than these two?

At 8:30 AM, Blogger theorris said...

Hah--circadian/cicadian. What a great binary. Actually I think I did have the cricket in mind when I typed the word. In Chinese lore the cricket, as I recall, is special to the writer/scholar. I'm not sure why, but I do remember reading poems about kept crickets keeping the lonely scholar company through a long night of study.

At 5:09 AM, Blogger Tamara Miles said...

I didn't know that about the cricket being linked to the writer. Cool! Jiminy is my hero. By the way, you have a great start to a poem with "kept crickets keeping" (fabulous onomatopoeia).

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