In the Sum- Sum- Summertime

kathy.jpg Technical Writing (English 160) is one of our most offered courses, given every semester and in summer school for decades. Why is this course so consistent in its appeal to students? Because most UMR students know they will need to write reports and do presentations once they have their degrees and are working as professionals.
The photograph shows Dr. Kathryn Northcut as she begins a session of the technical writing course she’s teaching this summer. Summer school is its own special thing. I’m writing this entry the day before the 4th of July, one of the events that make summer school so special. Another is the unrelenting pace of classes meeting day-after-day.
The compression and intensity of summer school can provide enjoyment: classes meet from 8:00 until early afternoon. Students and teachers can focus their work more effectively, at least in writing classes, and explore the subject matter in depth in 60 minute sessions that meet five days a week. In the summer, there are about 20% of the students on campus as in the regular semesters. The university sponsors a variety of camps and other events for students K-12, so there is a variety of people and activities that one doesn’t usually see in during regular semesters.
The weather—when it’s not pouring rain or scorching hot—invites outdoor activities, relaxes students and teachers, invites sitting and talking, reading in the shade, perhaps even snoozing in a quiet place. None of these pleasures, though, negates the daily flow of classes, assignments, or reports due. When class is finished for the day, one has a sense of space, of openness, freedom . . . until one (whether teacher or student) remembers the next day’s assignment.