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(sigh -- I hate my computer -- I had a full diary all written out and the computer decided to move on to another page and I lost the whole thing.  My apologies for the shortness of this).

It is the time of year when I have stacks of paper drafts and senior thesis chapters to grade and messages to students to write to remind them that coming to class, and coming prepared is part of their grade and they aren't doing too well in that category of things.  But my chair has asked us to propose our schedule for next spring, and that brings on all sorts of spring-y, cheery thoughts, and I thought I would focus on cheery thoughts today.  

If you could teach anything to your students, what would you teach?  Why?  

My spring schedule next year has a potential opening for a topics course.  The rules for this game of thinking are that the class has to attract more than just upper-level majors (it is a 400-level "topics in" course), so the suggestion from alumni that "We would have loved to have had more art history theory" just won't fly.  I have to have at least some background in the material as I have only 9 months at most to put the course together (so "humour in modern art" or "history of photography" is not really practical).  The final rule is that it should "make" at 20-25 students.

I am thinking about two options.  One is a course on the History of Museums and Collecting.  The other is on the Silk Road.  Both would potentially attract history and area studies majors, along with international studies people.  Either one would allow me to bring in theoretical and practical material (I have a whole file stuffed full of articles in the "I wish I were able to share these with someone and talk about them" -- actually two files, one with hard copies and a newer one on my computer), and would build on my own interests and backgrounds.  I think the museums one might be more popular and would allow me to have students do a project rather than a research paper as their cumulative project, if they so desire.

What do you look for in your fantasy courses?  Do you ever have a chance to teach one?  Or do you figure out a way to teach the fantasy material as part of a regular course?  I worry that the NCLB thing has prevented really creative approaches in schools, but those who teach in public schools would be able to let us know more about this.  I look forward to hearing your reflections, and your fantasies.  

Originally posted to annetteboardman on Sat Mar 26, 2011 at 09:18 AM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge and Educator Voices.

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