Monday, January 17, 2005

Cup 31: Pause and Reflect

real world real time
Originally uploaded by matt_leclair.
Where: my office, Orono, ME
When: 10:00 am, Jan 16, 2005
Who: Dot and Dash
Coffee: Maine Roaster's French Roast
Mood: reflective

I am drinking cup 31 while I write this entry. Suprisingly, this is the first time this has happened. I've probably been avoiding it, which is wrong of me because I made th rule at the start that I wasn't going to do anything different in my life because I am doing this blog. I guess it is a good time to "Pause and Reflect." That is one of those catch phrases I use with my students. Pause and reflect. Stop what you are doing to think about what you are learning. It is an important tool. Too often we just go through the motions without stopping to think about why, and if we're actually learning anything by doing what we're doing.

So, what have I learned so far? The most suprising thing I learned is that people are actually interested in this blog! I'd made other attempts (here and here) at blogging where I really made a strong attempt to make it interesting, to provide information of value and so on. Nobody cared. Nobody commented, aside from a few friends. In 100 Cups of Coffee I am paying a lot of attention to something completely mundane and boring and people are paying attention. It is really great, and I sincerely thank all of you who have posted and taken an interest into what I'm doing, even if I haven't replied personally to you. You've really helped keep this going. That is another thing I've learned. It is much easier to motivate yourself to do something when people are paying attention to you! That makes me realize how important giving students feedback on every project is. That is something I always intend to do, but all too often I get overwhelmed with everything else, and it doesn't happen, so the only feedback students get is at the end of the semester when they get their final grade. But wait... there's something else. If I blogging is analogous to learning, it isn't just important that students get feedback from me, but from each other. Maybe even more important. Every comment I've recieved on this blog has been important from me. I've never thought, oh, this comment is coming from a woman who is married to an Elvis impersonator, so I should pay more attention to her! It all counts. Hmmm. So how can I improve the ability for students to give each other feedback? Blogging for art class, perhaps? Let me ponder that...

I've learned it is much harder to take a successful picture of the mundane than it is of something spectacular. A beautiful landscape, a stunning flower... there's something there to capture, and even if you capture only a fraction of what is there, you can still have a pretty good picture (you can see examples of this here). But trying to photograph a cup of coffee without embellishing it, without staging the shot to make it interesting, that has been a real challenge!

I've learned that I drink more coffee than I thought I did. I've also learned that "cup" is a relative term, sometimes made more relative if I was feeling lazy. For instance, the official measure of a cup of water to be used in brewing a cup of coffee is actually 6 ounces, instead of the 8 ounces we usually think of as a cup. After brewing, this constitutes about 5.3 ounces. So, what measure do I go by? Sometimes I've had several of the old-style coffee cups and referred to it as one cup, since my Uncle mug would hold at least 3 of those cups. And what of the times I've started a cup of coffee, drunk half, then refilled my cup? Without actually measuring every ounce of coffee I've drunk, how can I have an honest 100 Cups of Coffee? I can't! So this whole blog is a lie!

1 comment:

pale ale said...

I can tell you what I have learned from your far:

A "cup of coffee" is not a volume, or a consistant caloric intake, its an experience. And its all dependant on mood, and lighting, and company, etc., etc., etc.

And I think that it is an interesting topic because it is mundane. I mean, I had a cup of coffee today too. I am sure some very famous noteworthy people had a cup of coffee today. And I'm sure there are people that all they had was a cup of coffee, because that is all they could afford. Its something a lot of people can relate to.

I mean, I have been on my share of first dates and a lot of them have been initiated with "would you like to get a cup of coffee?" Its basic, its simply, but every single "cup of coffee" is different.

I believe it was the Greek philosopher, Heraclius, who said something like you cannot step into the same river, for other waters are ever flowing on to you?

A "cup of coffee" has some water in it.

I like what you're doing.