Saturday, October 10, 2009

Highlights from Goodman E-mails

I scrolled randomly to a point in my e-mail inbox, just wasting time. I happened across a few e-mails from Dr. Goodman and then searched for all of our correspondence so I could share with all of you, some highlights. A little later, I would really like to share some interactions we had in an on-line forum Dr. Goodman organized for one of our classes (a class Dr. Goodman tried hard to convince me to take, as you'll read below).

After reading through these, I'm not sure I'll delete many more e-mails.


10/10/07, 3PM

"Students usually want to talk and they learn better when they interact with the subject. But if discussions are poorly framed and overly broad (e.g., “What do you think about that?” or “How do you feel about this?”) then they don’t really further our understanding all that much. The questions need to be tighter, more focused, and more purposeful, if that makes sense."

Goodman always asked good questions and always encouraged his students to do so. I still don't ask good questions, but I consistently try to reach his standards. This same e-mail reflected an amazing memory as Goodman referred multiple times to things I had said during class discussion, things I probably didn't even remember saying.


12/10/07 1:20PM

"Your total class participation grade for the semester (25% of your final course grade) is a 107 (outlandish, I know! But that’s the average for a 116 quiz average and a 98 seminar discussion average)."

Goodman gives extra-credit opportunities and always made a big deal about it when somebody received the extra credit, but obviously didn't need it. It amused me.


12/12/07 7:49AM

"Someday, when you’re universally hailed as the successor to Jacques Derrida, I’d like to be able to pull out my grade book from Fall ’07 and say, “Here’s what Mr. Genius did in my class oh so many years ago. Deconstruct this!”

And with that, I thrust my middle finger in the air…"

However, I'm sure he wouldn't thrust his middle finger in the air. What would his mother think?


12/13/07 8:06AM

"By the way, I saw Into the Wild last night. Do you know the story? You may have read the book (I haven’t). Fascinating. A 22 year-old young man graduates from Emory, sends his life’s savings to Oxfam, and quite intentionally disappears from his family to escape society. He spends a couple of years drifting west. His ultimate goal is to make it to Alaska to live off the land, which he does but with tragic consequences. It’s a true story, but I didn’t remember it (happened in 1992). Anyway, thought of you several times in the movie. Lots of literary and philosophical currents to it (more in the book, from what I’ve gathered; I came home and spent a couple of hours reading more about the story).

Hope you have a great Christmas. Are you heading to Maine ?"

A movie that made him think of me now makes me think of him. I'm not always sure what made him think of me, but I treasure the thought that it did. I remember being a bit surprised with the end of that e-mail. I was often pleasantly taken aback when Dr. G breached the professor-student relationship with words of friendship.


04/09/08 11:20AM

"Not sure if you've ever come across this group, but their monthly newsletter is always interesting and thought provoking. I'm not even clear about who they are--I think they're "progressive evangelicals." I'm impressed with how they engage culture, philosophy, and literature. And their stuff looks smart! So sorry to add another email to your inbox, but I thought you might be intrigued by this outfit (though this issue of their newsletter doesn't look as good as other issues have looked)."


04/10/08 8:51AM

"And I will remember earnestly in my prayers and best wishes (I don’t always differentiate between the two, you know?) in the days and weeks ahead. I promise. You’re a gifted guy and super-important to this community and to a lot of people in this community, myself being one of them. Anything that I can do to help share the burden, please know I’m more than willing to do so.

Blessings, friend."



08/04/08 11:19AM

"Hope you’re enjoying your summer—hard to believe we start it up again in just a couple of weeks, huh?!?

Any chance you’ve changed your mind about participating in the Jewish-Christian Relations Travel Study class this Fall? Never hurts to ask!


I’m hoping to finish the course syllabus this week and, while working on it, I thought I’d see if there was any possibility that you might reconsider and decide to join us for our week on the road in October. If not, I certainly understand. I ask not to bother you but only to indicate my confidence in how much you’d have to contribute to our experience."


After telling Dr. Goodman I would take the class ...

08/14/08 1:02PM

"Well, this is the best news I’ve heard all day! Glad you’re in and looking forward to your contributions to the class. If there’s anything I can do along the way to help, don’t hesitate to ask, ok?"


12/08/08 12:27PM

"Just a note about our final exam tomorrow night. I’d like to bypass a traditional exam or take-home writing assignment (you have done a decent amount of writing and reading this semester—I don’t really see the point in asking you to write-up rehearsals of material we’ve already covered just for the sake of a final exam assignment)."

Finals are often a waste of time. Goodman didn't waste time.


After we took the non-traditional final exam referenced in the previous e-mail ...

12/10/08 11:26AM

"The peer-grading for your final exam performance was, as you would guess, generous! One student who shall remain nameless wrote this note at the bottom of his/her grade sheet: “I can’t give anybody less than an ‘A.’ They all got up there and did the best they could.” Imagine a heart patient adopting that mindset with his heart surgeon, or an Olympic judge approaching her evaluation of a gymnast that way!! Some of you are just too nice for your own good!"

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