A student writes at the beginning of her response paper that Aristotle’s Ethics is an instruction manual for a moral life. At the end of the paper she writes that it is isn’t working very well as an instruction manual, as there are too many gaps. It does not occur to her to use the second idea to challenge the first; on the contrary, she sees in her juxtaposition a cohesiveness in focus. What to me is the obvious next step — to ask if maybe the text is not an instructional manual — is not an obvious step for her. In this she is typical of my students. And I do not know how to correct them without saying what I believe: that this way of reading bespeaks a character flaw.
I am planning a faculty resident event on Harry Potter, and have advertised quizzes and prizes. This means I have to buy some prizes and, more interestingly, write some quizzes. Eila and I are still devoting much of our time together to listening to the books on CD, now in the middle of our third time through the series, and I am noticing many repeated images. For instance, in Books I, II, III, and IV, a bag splits open in the Hogwarts’ hallway. It happens just once in each book, in different circumstances each time: I forget whose bag in I, Harry’s in II, Hermione’s in III, Cedric’s in IV. Does it also happen in Book V and Book VI? I don’t know yet.
I’ll post the full quiz after the event.