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· Retiring Periodicity ·

My school year ended yesterday. Today's · You Got Style · subject is quite apropos, periodicity. It is delaying the rhetorical point: suspending grammatical attention better to mark logical emphasis. It naturally thrives (if you think about it) on ceremony.

Yesterday, for instance, a colleague here learned he'll have his name forever gracing an existing natural landscape. Our board-approved declaration included a long, indeed a ceremoniously-long WHEREAS list, one followed necessarily by a THEREFORE emphasizing, at last, HIS NAME.

I even got in the mood, since our president is also getting a proposed campus building named for him. So today I thought to share something I wrote yesterday before graduation. Here with my point following (but with names, times, places omitted) is a routine classroom visitation report. Its subject, as you might guess, is retired.

At _______'s request I visited Mr. _______'s 101 class on May __, leaving with a positive impression of his teaching. He clearly commands the respect and attention of students. Addressing Bruce Catton's famous comparison of Civil War Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, he marched his students across a field of historical-literary ideas with impressive authority, and with the pedagogical challenges of expository writing always clearly in view.

I was especially impressed by his strategic inquiry skills. Working from simpler to more complex matters, he engaged student attention directly, following what seemed a planned route of real learning from biographical-historical to rhetorical-logical detail. Although he ignored one student's too-quick grasp of a crucial logical point — perhaps analogous to one's ignoring Grant's "genius" for topographical thinking — he yet served students well, grasping clearly how such points all eventually appear.

But Mr. _______ also himself grasps good beginnings. I was taken by his initial quiz. Gathering facts and judgments alike, it focused inquiry by training student attention, whether students quite understood things or not. As a result, all were dutifully "engaged."

Clearly, Mr. _______ merits general commendation for his work, perhaps even a medal, especially now in retirement. Obviously, ___ is well served.

My own point? Simply, if belatedly, to wish our newly-honored colleagues deservedly happy retirements.


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