Yesterday, I started my summer Freshman Composition class. We will meet every Saturday (except 4th of July weekend) for the next two months. Our meetings will run from 8am-12:45pm. This schedule seems really daunting for me. Keeping students interested for five hours on Saturday mornings . . . I feel like I should learn how to juggle.
But yesterday, we started off strong by talking about the theme for the course – food. I am not what you’d call a foodie, but I am deeply invested in food, particularly healthy, local, organic, and compassionate food. To launch class, we watched a clip of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. I asked the students to think about how they would feel if they were the people of Huntington, WV and if they were Jamie Oliver. We had a great discussion, with most of agreeing that Oliver’s mission is a good one. I’m now very excited about this course. If we can talk this way, we can make it through the class.
One thing I have learned in my almost ten years of teaching is that a themed composition source makes for a better teaching and learning experience. When we have a topic to discuss, we learn a lot more. I love hearing what my students have to say about their food choices, so when I get to read their papers, I actually get excited. And I hope that they enjoy learning about something in context.
There’s another reason that themed composition courses seem wise to me: they allow students to explore ideas beyond the scope of traditional English courses. A class on food involves horticulture, agriculture, medicine, politics, ethics, history, and almost every other subject we can imagine. This kind of theme allows the course to become, truly, multi-disciplinary.
Finally, there’s one other reason I like to teach a course around food – we get to eat. Oh yum!!!