25 January 2006

So....How's School Going?

While I often am queried, "How's school going?" I offer that it's going well. It was a little tough for me to do that a couple of days ago. I had given a presentation for my Modern Orthodoxy class, which, while not absolutely terrible, was not exactly "A" material. It was so not that great that I'm not even bothering to describe the topic of my presentation (however, my roommate, Ben, tells me it sparked some thought which went into his most recent post). While my teacher for the course (I'm not naming him, it's not that important, or maybe it is, but just let it go) had offered criticisms before my presentation about it (which was good, as I knew it wasn't going to be great already before the presentation), he really critiqued it quite well at the end of my presentation. I will say that he was rather civil about the critique, which was somewhat heartening. After the presentation, some of the guys in the class came up to me and offered some condolences on my presentation, as well as sharing that they were concerned about their presentations, but at least I went first as somewhat of a "guinea pig" (it's so weird to use that term when one has real guinea pigs as pets), so they could see what it would be like.
I was happy that I was done with my presentation and also that maybe I could start out with having somewhat low expectations expected of me by this rabbi and could improve upon them in the future, wowing him. While I think this may be a nice idea, it's probably wishful thinking - he'll still probably expect more anyways.
The following day, while I had stepped out in the hallway on my way to use the restroom during one of the speakers at our mikveh visit, he came up to me and checked in with me to see how I was doing and that he realized he came down kind of hard on me, that it was my first presentation (I guess for him on my behalf), that I didn't have much sociological background, and suggested that he was willing to work with me in the future. So that was nice of him.
Speaking about it with Ben (see above), one of the concerns voiced by this rabbi was that he sensed I was not engaging that much with the readings or the class if I wasn't really quite getting this presentation thing. After reflecting upon it, I suggested that maybe it was due to my feeling very much as a student rather than as a future rabbi (just think "rabbinical STUDENT"), but I suppose that's due to a couple reasons right off the bat: 1) I'm three and a half years away from being a rabbi - my mind is just not there yet and 2) Last year in the mechina program, we were pretty much just yeshiva students merely learning Torah, as opposed to learning Torah as well as taking rabbinic classes, so I'm used to that year's worth of orientation to the yeshiva, as well as this half year's worth of still trying to be fairly learning (the biggest example is that our Talmud class is being taught in a manner about learning Talmud: last year a focus on the actual text of the Talmud and this year a focus on the ראשונים (medieval commentators) on the Talmud, but not for practical purposes (think of it as lomdishe)), whereas in the next three years, we will be focusing on הלכה (Jewish law), which is very practical and not merely "academic" (no, we don't resort to much in the way of academic approaches...unfortunately). Whereas I may at some point be more interested in the issues of the community and be aware of what's going on, I am more interested in the texts, etc. - yes, I've got a little ivory tower action going on, but that's where I'm at. So, I think that as the year's go by, I will start stepping out of the ivory tower, but slowly, I like it in my ivory towers (yes, plural, I spend some of my free time (like tonight, for instance) in the YU library (fifth floor, mainly) and, of course, school), primarily for the safety, but I realize that life will get more complicated and busy with being more involved with the real world, than in developing as a scholar.
Also on Monday, BTW, I had a quiz in my Rishonim/Talmud class, and today I had a final test in my History of Rishonim class, both of which I did well on (okay, the latter of which, I have yet to receive my results, but I thought I did well). And, in general, classes are going well, etc. So, yes, school is going well.

6 comments:

tnspr569 said...

nice to hear...check your email lately?

Drew_Kaplan said...

Yes, I have.

tnspr569 said...

so, umm...did you get my email? not to be a nudge, but...

Drew_Kaplan said...

Maybe, but I don't know who "you" are from whom I could have received an e-mail (drewkaplanis@yahoo.com).

tnspr569 said...

tried again to send it...we'll see what happens

Drew_Kaplan said...

Got it - thanks for your comments.