Let’s Talk About Hawthorne (and a few other things, too)

27 Aug

Another semester is upon us, and a new crop of freshmen have arrived.

That sentence popped into my head last night as I contemplated that start of a new academic year. It is always an interesting time as the faculty scramble to get their classes organized and new students scramble to figure out what they have gotten themselves into. The returning members of the sophomore, junior and senior classes are the only ones to be taking things in stride. This is old news to them.

For the first time in a couple of months, the campus is buzzing with activity. The freshmen have been divided into pods and are making their way around the place. I am not sure what they did this morning, but one session was spent going over The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Each group met with a different faculty member and discussed what they read.Nathaniel Hawthorne

My group had a decent meeting. They did not like what they had to read but understood that it would probably happen more than once in the next few years.

I enjoyed the part where they talked about themselves. Most were from around this area, but a couple had traveled some distance. A student from Alabama, who is here to play basketball, had been to All Steak. Another student from Lawrence, Kansas is here to be on the cycling team. I told them that I had been to Holcomb, Kansas, and, to my surprise, a student from around here knew why that place is famous.

Another student from a nearby town came from a graduating class of thirteen people. Our discussion group was bigger than that. We advertise about having small classes, but we can’t compare to that.

I learned a lot from the students – more than they probably learned from me. I learned that they already know how to complain about the cafeteria food. I learned that most of our students still come from the general vicinity. I learned that they are generally glad to be here and are looking forward to what lies ahead.

Some of them will make it to graduation. Some of them will wash out within a few semesters. All of them have the experience of reading The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

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