Showing posts from April, 2020

Lessons from the Zoom Room

It’s been three weeks, counting the practice session that my students and I did before term started. Two full weeks of classes, discussion sections, and office hours, more hours than I have ever been on camera in that short of time. Not as many as some, I am well-aware. But more than I had been used to.  It’s exhausting. It’s exhilarating. It’s ... well ... different from what I had expected. Perhaps the strangest aspect of the transition to Zoom is the sensation that I get not from teaching, when I am diligently looking at the camera  for the sake of my students, but when I am a student (fiddle class) or participant (faculty meeting) looking at myself looking at everyone else. Obviously, I can’t show you a screen shot of those meetings because that would mean showing you people whom I am not supposed to be able to take pictures of—except I can, because there we all are on screen together , visually identical in our little Zoom boxes. It is humbling, but also oddly sobering. I

Fireside Chats

Two new podcasts to while away the spring evenings! 1. “ The Good Society, Its Friends, and Its Enemies ,” with Carbon Mike on future radio at Foundationism Online , April 2, 2020. 2. “ The Medieval Worldview ,” with Michael Sisco and Nicholas Leonard at Hearth & Fire, April 13, 2020. For a complete list of my podcast, video, and radio appearances, see Bear on Air .

Zoom U: Tips and Tricks

You’ve got your university-licensed Zoom account. You have pestered campus IT to help you link your Zoom account with your Canvas courses, and you have figured out how to schedule recurring sessions of your classes, discussion sections, and office hours with stable Zoom IDs. ( Pro tip:  It will help your students find the rooms again if you include the IDs in your syllabus and/or post them on Canvas.) Somehow you managed to get everyone in the same room for your first class meeting, and you are reviewing the automatically-recorded session with a mixed frisson of horror and delight. Is that what I look like when I’m talking?! Why do the students all look so sleepy? How am I ever going to survive this term?! Never fear, Fencing Bear is here with a few tips and tricks for making the next few months fun! First, and most important rule of thumb: Do a little, then iterate. My current obsession is figuring out how to have music playing at the beginning of class, which involves

Corona Wisse

Yesterday, everyone in the city of Chicago was warned not to go outside our homes except for necessities, on pain of arrest. Today, I watched Palm Sunday Mass live-streamed from the church of St. John Cantius downtown. Tomorrow, I will be teaching my first class of the Spring 2020 quarter online. I still can’t decide how I feel about all of this. Some worry that we are losing our freedom, not to mention our economy. Others insist that it is necessary to quarantine ourselves lest we—or our loved ones—lose our lives. Still others reassure us that, while things may or may not be as dire as they seem, there is a plan at work, we just need to stay home, let it play out , and all will be well. If only there were a guide . The message from the city was terrifying. It arrived on our phones with a siren’s blare, and it both threatened and shamed us if we dared ignore. The Mass was exquisite, a glimpse of the worship offered Our Lord in heaven, with heavenly voices sing

A Prayer for Resurrection in the Time of Coronavirus

John Moran, author of The Resurrection Mantra , joined me last night to talk about how saying the Resurrection Mantra (“Jesus, with you I will die and rise again”) can help build hope and resilience in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Watch on my YouTube channel ! John and I talked in depth about the Resurrection Mantra  last October , before the world changed. For a complete list of my videos, podcasts, and radio interviews, see Bear On Air .

“O Fortuna!”

Grief is real. We are living through a massive transformation. Before the French Revolution, “revolution” meant a turning of the Wheel of Fortune. The Wheel has turned. The world has changed; we do not know yet what it will become. It is time to pray, grieve, and hope. Image: Wheel of Fortune from the Benediktbeuern manuscript (Munich, Bayerische Staastbibliothek, Clm 4660, fol. 1. For the story of this manuscript, see Christopher de Hamel, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts: Twelve Journeys into the Medieval World  (London: Allen Lane, 2016), chapter 8.