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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Back to Academic English in the Lecture Hall

My oldest son is smart, very smart, for having been in the US only eight years.  Prior to that, he never attended school, so we’ve made up for lost time, and now he’s taking college courses at age 15.5  That leads us to the academic English issue rearing its challenging head again.

The fact that he may be biting off more than he can chew has never deterred us.   It simply takes some extra work on his part and on mine.

Attending his first scholarly lecture in archaeology, we’re both a bit shot.  It’s a holiday weekend and the course required us to be present and accounted for at an early-morning hour, meaning that we had to drive 8 hours to be in situ` at the appointed time, attend the lecture, and then drive back, traffic or no traffic.  We do it, but are somewhat groggy.  That’s when the lecture heads into high gear.

Over the course of the next four hours, both of us write furiously.  My pen, which started out new, goes through more than half of its ink, levels dropping at about the same alarming rate as our gas tank on the harried highway trip.  I’m glad that I forewarned him to bring two pens, just in case.

Our modus operandi is thus:  we will not chit-chat during the lecture itself, but sit up straight and try to appear comprehending, no matter how incomprehensible are the terms we encounter.  This strategy comes in handy, for we are sorely tested during the Prehistory/ History Overview.

My mind is racing and I wonder how much my son grasps:  the mitochondrial evidence; the shamanistic elements of a painted skull found in the buffalo hunt depository; how climate and the adaptations of technology are related, such as the difference in hefting technique which emerged and may be seen in the atlatl; evidence of increasing sedentism as estuarine and floodplain locales are more intensively utilized; the blacks new-found freedom which was quickly circumscribed by a new phenomenon of institutionalized racism.  I could go on.

This was all high-level English for someone whose notes revealed three different ways to spell corn.  As planned, we both take notes and his are a rough draft, which I will check for spelling, comprehension, and a certain degree of orderliness.  He will then rewrite the notes in final form in an official notebook.  Did I mention that our notes on lectures, readings, and field work are part of our final grade?

None of the $20 words seem to faze him. Instead, he’s unsure of the Delmarva.

Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia a peninsula encompassing all three along the coast, I coach him in the hallway during a break.

We both blink during the Pleistocene and Holocene time periods, but do our best.  The other students appear to be a disproportionate number of retirees with multiple Ph.D.s.  Many add insightful comments to what the archaeologist-lecturer is sharing, turning our three-hour lecture into four.  When we get to subsistence strategies, all I can think of are the two bananas waiting for us in our bag.

If we don’t eat them soon, the entire human race may be in jeopardy.



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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar hoonew says:

    Very impressive! Petya knows how to jump into stuff feet first. So glad his parents know how to encourage him to do just that!

    • avatar admin says:

      Thanks, Hoonew! I remember my late preteens and early teens years: too young to work, too young to really do things that interested me. My parents were great, but I always felt held back in school, etc. I want him to be able to just enjoy and grow… and he is! It’s fun to watch.

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