Monday, September 05, 2011

One week down.

Today is Labor Day, a U.S. federal holiday, so regularly-scheduled classes at Saint Joseph's University were not held today. As it happens, classes were cancelled last Monday - on what would have been the first day of the semester - because of Hurricane Irene, so Monday classes have yet to meet this fall. Barring unexpected natural disasters, next week should be the first to follow a completely normal schedule, Monday classes and all.

My own courses are off to a good start, I think. This semester, I'm teaching two sections of a required course in philosophical ethics (a course that I've taught every semester I've been at SJU) as well as an upper-division philosophy elective on the social and political thought of St. Augustine of Hippo. The Augustine course is brand-new: the university catalogue had no courses specifically devoted to Augustine when I came here, so I created one from scratch. Having put a great deal of time and effort during the spring and summer into developing this new course, I'm happy that I've finally started teaching it. I'm enjoying the experience so far - hopefully my students are able to say the same.

The work of preparing and teaching this course means that much of my recent reading has been focused on St. Augustine. My first and most essential task was to reread the Confessions and the City of God, taking copious notes as I went along. Since then, I've been occupied with a wide and eclectic variety of secondary literature, examples of which include Robert Dodaro's Christ and the Just Society in the Thought of Augustine, Garry Wills' newly-published Augustine's Confessions: A Biography, and an edited volume entitled Orthodox Readings of Augustine. Some of the books I've been reading have little or no direct connection to the course I'm teaching - Orthodox Readings of Augustine, for example, deals with themes far removed from political philosophy - but most have been on my "to be read" list for a while, so I'm happy to have the opportunity to get to them.

Prayers and best wishes for all readers who are moving into a new academic year, both as students and as teachers. Guided by the Holy Spirit, may we all grow in wisdom and understanding. AMDG.


At 9/08/2011 10:43 PM, Blogger Robin said...

I wish I could take your course!

I've had a great week teaching about Ignatian spirituality and Jesuit principles of education. The students have responded enthusiastically -- at least as enthusiastically as is possible at 8am.

And btw, the Jesuits and Ignatian spirituality have gotten some shout-outs in my posts of the last couple of weeks.

At 9/09/2011 12:47 PM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...

The students have responded enthusiastically -- at least as enthusiastically as is possible at 8am.

Teaching at 8 am! God bless you - the earliest that I've taught is 9 am. I'm not a morning person, so I think I would find it very hard to teach any earlier.

That being said, I've heard from some of my colleagues that their early morning groups can be very lively - some students end up taking classes at that time because they had no choice (on account of unlucky registration times, or having to work around other aspects of their schedule), but I gather that some students prefer early classes because they are morning people and are more alert and engaged at that time of the day. (I hope that you have some of those in class!)


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