Monday, October 31, 2011

Daily life and my 15-year reunion

Joo has three main "worlds" outside the house this quarter: (1) She is a full-time student again in culinary school with classes like Garmeget, Baking, Personal Finance, and Accounting (2) She remains active in the Korean church by teaching Korean to the 4- and 5-year old kids and women's prayer group, and (3) She works one evening a week at Salaam (the Middle-eastern/Asian restaurant downtown).

Above is Joo making up some ginger tea mini-buckets for the women at church, and below is one of their fellowship and prayer meetings.

On my side of things, aside from leading the youth group on Sundays, I can basically be found sitting in strange positions as I highlight up articles related to math education, teacher education, or educational research methods.

I have to say, I love the discussion-rich atmosphere of several of my education classes. There's a fairly wide range of cultures represented in most of my classes also, which is rewarding for a xenophile like myself.

Although I'm taking my first full-on dive into the world of education, I do still have one class over in the mathematics department - statistics. Mathematically, I find it just as stimulating and interesting as Modern Algebra, but its myriad applications means that I will have an easier time tying in place-based education with statistics. Anyway, I plan to continue taking statistics courses the rest of the year and will hopefully find ways to tie it into my research and career beyond that.

In other news, I attended my first reunion ever - a 15-yr high school reunion. It's fun to think of how my anticipation for a class reunion has shifted over the years. The first few years after high school graduation, I rarely ever thought of my classmates because university was a much better fit for me in many respects. Two weeks into my first semester at EMU, I had already formed friendships that were much deeper than the connections I had made with my primary/secondary school classmates of 13 years. However, as the years passed, I became more nostalgic about that decade plus of memories, and I began to wonder what my old classmates were up to and how they had changed. I felt a personal desire to return and show them how I had matured socially (as I had been somewhat socially awkward in high school). Those ambitions died off four years ago when I married JooYeon (actually, in general, a lot of my need to impress others faded away once I had found someone I knew I would enjoy spending my life with). So, by the time this fall reunion finally rolled around, I decided to attend mostly out of psychological curiosity - "How much do people change throughout their formative twenties?"

Saturday night turned out to be quite fun with two of the class clowns taking over as MCs and narrating us through the past and present. There was a lot of alcohol there, and I had never gone to drinking parties in high school, so I saw a bit of a different side of some classmates in that sense. Outside of that though, I was amazed at how much both people and dynamics between people were the same as what they were 15-20 years ago. Is it simply that being in the same environment with each other naturally warped us back to who we were then? Or have most of us really not changed very much? I even found myself struggling with some of the same social insecurities that I had in high school (albeit to a much lesser degree since I was anchored by my current, stable life).

Which is not to say it was a negative experience; on the contrary, I found it fascinating. The great majority of my classmates have continued to live in rural areas and so I had the opportunity to put faces to stereotypical rural roles that I've been constantly reading about in my rural education studies. That sounds a bit odd, since I'm technically living in a rural area myself, but somehow Athens (or at least MY life in Athens) is so different from the rural areas that surround us that I don't necessarily feel like I play a significant role in a rural community like the smalltown grocery owner, or the farmer, or the postman, etc. In any case, it was a wonderful time of reflection on where I was 15 years ago, where I am now, and where I hope to go in the future. As Nathaniel would say, "Thundercats Ho!"

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Remedies for Excessive Studying

Needless to stay, I've had my head buried in the books for the past couple months, but I did want to at least post a small entry here mentioning three potential remedies for studyitis. The top one is the one I've used by far the most (and no, this has nothing to do with corporal punishment). When Joo told her mom that my back and neck muscles were getting quite sore from studying in the same position too long, her mom had the perfect solution in the mail within a day - suction therapy cups. The concept is quite simple - you invert the cups on any area of your body where you want to increase the blood flow as shown below and then let them flip out and latch on.

Then, you let them suck for about 20 minutes, pop them off and voila!

It looks painful, but it's more of a strange sensation - like giving a piggy-back ride to a scared octopus who is clinging as tightly as he can. And I can't argue with the results; my back and neck tension has decreased to an imperceptible level over the past month or two. Another interesting thing is that the suction cups no longer leave much of a mark anymore (the above pictures were taken when my capillaries were naive and inexperienced).

Of course, I mentioned three remedies for studyitis and the second is, of course, quality family time :) Especially when one has parents like this...

With Heather and Bob living in Ohio for a year, we've set a goal to try to get the whole family together once a month if possible. One of our first meetings was a black raspberry cooking contest out at the Harris household.

Joo and I whipped up some sweet potatoes with black raspberry sauce (unpictured for some reason), Heather and Bob made a pie (also not pictured, but I do have the delicious veggie stromboli Heather made)...

...and the winner for the most creative dish was Mom with her creation of an ice bowl with herbs to keep the fruit cold.

And the third remedy for excessive studying is taking an occasional step back to reflect and catch my breath before diving back into my studies. So, that's why I wrote this quick blog entry :) Now, back to Paul Cobb and his ideas on how to cope with multiple theoretical perspectives in mathematical education research - ta ta!