I’m digging my Intro to Spanish Literature class, but I am also disappointed. I take special care in learning to the best of my ability every new word, subtlety and nuance. So, sue me, I thought that’s what the class was going to be about. Sure, we’d engage in lively debate, but our instructor was going to explain to us the literary devices used in each story, and how we could use what we’ve read to bolster our own working vocabularies, to make our own language more powerful.
We don’t even get lively debate. What we really do is sit there, while our instructor reads verbatim the questions at the end of the story, and waits for someone to answer. Most of them are yes or no questions, or ask, “What color are the socks as they are mentioned in paragraph two of the story? Comment.”
Most of this I’m not even making up.
The adults are infinitely more engaged than the kids in the class, which confirms my belief that education is wasted on the young. As engaged as the adults are, however, maybe we need help formulating our ideas. So they fall to the floor with a loud thud, as our instructor moves to the next question.
I thought that the woman who asked why the immigration officials just happened to have a parrot-sized electric chair on hand was a great question. The problem is, what came out was more like, “How electric chair in airport yes no why?”
“Eh, no sé,” said our instructor. Next question.
These week’s story is Fastolph Overhill’s* “The Number 24,” the story of a doctor’s failed attempt to escape from Cuba. What’s freaking me out about this story is, if I understand it correctly, all he did was formulate his plan in his mind, and he was still arrested.
There are so many things to talk about in this story, like the paranoia, the brainwashing, the mind control employed by the Revolution. It makes me wonder just what all these people were fighting for.
Here are the first two questions.
1. How many people appear in the first paragraph of the story. Do they all have the same profession? Explain.
2. Is the narrator one of these characters? Does he have a name and or last name? Is he an important or unimportant character in the story? Why? Comment.
I have to change my perspective. This class to me from now on is nothing more than a supplement to these great stories. It can only help.
But I might suggest that they change the name from “Introduction to Spanish Literature” to “Total Immersion Brain Drain.”