A lot has happened since my last post. One of the students removed himself from the program for personal reasons and has since asked to be readmitted. Another student was removed from the program for disciplinary reasons. They also received their first graded essay. I think they were generally happy with their grades, but it is always nerve wrecking to watch them reviewing my comments while I'm still standing there.
We're left the narrative and moved on to the definition essay, which has gone over relatively well until we got to Kafka's "Before the Law". Discussing their interpretations of his parable was definitely a challenge. I think they have a difficult time understanding that everyone has their own interpretation of a word or text and that interpretation does not necessarily mean a person is wrong. One student was not shy about expressing his somewhat aggressive opinion about an example in class last week. The situation was mostly uncomfortable due to his defensive behavior--he's been one of those student who isn't afraid to voice his opinion since the beginning--and we had a difficult time understanding each other. I'm still not sure if he truly understood the point of the example, which was essay structure, or if I was misunderstanding what he was confused about. The atmosphere is certainly different than a normal classroom. I wonder if it has to do with a lack of respect for authority because of my age. The important thing is I am learning as much as they are.
After finish the next definition essay I am giving them a break from formal writing to work on some poetry. I think the majority of the class will be excited about that.