When I was teaching, after a while I had the students do a ten-minute “response” (i.e., “zero” draft writing) abut a particular topic that I put on the board and also put my take on the subject. I told them if they had a more pressing idea in mind, such as breaking up with their girl friend/boyfriend, they were welcome to write about that. This little exercise got them writing, helped them think and organize quickly and helped me understand what was going on in their lives. I also read every blessed one of them, commenting and giving them back the next class. Some students didn’t appreciate my efforts to improve their writing. I didn’t care. It was ten points off their grade (typically they had about 600 possible points during a quarter) if they didn’t do it. Those who did it reported that they did well on the College Board Essay, which gave them 25 minutes to write on a given topic (no choices there).
I figure out of a 180-day school year, my students wrote 170 times a year. For me, that meant looking at, let’s say, 17,000 responses during that time. I think I used this assignment for about 14 years, so that came to 238,000 writings. That’s a pile of writing, but it was part of what I felt I (and they) needed to do.
All that is prologue to today’s post topic. On Mondays, I had the students write about their weekend as a way of easing them into the school week. Some said they didn’t do anything on the weekends: I allowed as how that was not really possible no matter how big a slug they happened to be. Even if they sat around and watched television while eating Doritos, that was doing something.
And so, here is the first part of my extended-weekend report. It was a busy one.
Thursday evening we took off for Williamsburg and the annual national convention of Pilots for Christ, a group of aviators and non-aviators who use their aircraft for mercy and medical missions. I participated on a mission with my friend Lee DeArmond who was the Worldwide President of PCI at the time. We flew to Fort Wayne Indiana to meet another PCI flight coming from Minneapolis with a young boy and his mother from Manassas who had been undergoing treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. We put the patient and his mother in the back seat and flew back to Manassas. It was during this flight I accumulated my one hour of pilot-in-command time. I also became airsick on the way there for the first time, but the less said about that, the better.
We got to Williamsburg about ten and checked in, sleeping the sleep of the just (and the tired.)
Tomorrow: Friday–Food, Shopping, Eating and a Touching Address