This is about current day (late summer 2020) politics in the United States. It does not have personal hatred to any one or any thing in it, but if you want to be forewarned before reading on the subject, now you can be.Continue reading A test of, at minimum, honor or honesty
(Reminded of this by the comment of Laura on the awfullibrarybooks.net post about “Middle Age / The Prime of Life?”.)
At County College, I took a course on public speaking (rhetoric), which is the practice of standing in front of some people who are giving their attention to you while you talk about something. It is not elocution (making speech sounds). I think I got a B?
The professor was an old dude of some humor and, according to some, an appearance like a board game character. We got along with him well, but here are some memorys:
1. He had a camcorder on a tripod that he used to video us, so we could watch our performances later and see how to improve. I don’t know who else didn’t do this, but I was one who have always had an aversion to my voice and face, so I never did and made sure to destroy the VHS at the end of the semester. I am still glad.
2. He forgot to include the grade composition in the syllabus! This wasn’t brought up until we were preparing for the last speech we would have to give, when he reminded us it would be 40% of the final grade. I remember being the one to ask him the grade breakdown and answering him that it wasn’t in the syllabus. (He was cool about it and immediately told us what it was.)
3. One student gave a very polished speech (I think it was the third of 5 we had to do) and I remember when leaving the classroom after that period had ended the professor striking up what was very clearly a touchy conversation. I didn’t stay, but the next period I remember noticing she was not there. The entire time since I have a fear that she plagiarized it and had to, at minimum, withdraw from the course.
4. Someone who sat next to me gave a couple of speeches I remember, one was on procrastination and he mentioned intentionally procrastinating on preparing or practicing it. I felt it dragged out and had evidence that the professor didn’t like it.
5. The professor had some entertaining storys, like the time he taught somewhere else. It was in a cement block building with a lower cieling, probably a dropped one. The speaker (a student) began by firing a hand gun of some type (with a blank round, or it was a starter/cap gun), calmly saying “Now that I have your attention…”, and then “had the nerve” (prof’s words) to give a speech totally unrelated to that.
6. (Here is what Laura reminded me of) Somewhere along the line the subject of bad drivers came up while he was seated at the front of the class and lecturing in a sort of conversational way. I think it had turned to old people drivers (he had a completely white mustache, so was old/older) and he stated his opinion that “some people must have gotten their license out of a cereal box”. (Awhile ago, breakfast cereals sold in boxes would have some free toy, implying that these bad older drivers could only have gotten a license if there was no testing at all.)
7. I remember some of my fellow students’ speeches, such as “the best advice I ever got was from my father, who said I needed to know how to change a tire” (with examples!), Dagorhir, making something unexpected out of peanut butter, public unawareness of the current Cabinet (this was extemporaneous and a good one), and more I do not remember.
8. I once was loitering outside the building library, reading the New York Times and others’ headlines through the window. He walked by and, being a jokester but not a mean one, said “Ahh there you are.” like he was looking for me. I replied, off guard and vanishingly slightly displeased, “O no, it’s you.”. On seeing me the next class period (I sat near the back by the door), he brought it up to me and I obligingly repeated it, and then again to get the right tone of disgust for him. (This was not done out of anger and I am confident if I refused he would have let it go.)
This course was helpful when I had to give a speech in another class, later on. Particularly the advice and practice in speaking clearly, looking around the room, and not unconsciously moving my hands/arms/body. I wish I kept that professor’s evaluation, I remember his rubric specifically considered eye contact and other things. I got an “Excellent” in that, and I think the other two. More on this course later.