Posted by: jeannineatkins | September 11, 2008

The Power of One Sentence

I got an email from a student noting fall scheduling problems, and that my children’s literature course would suit her schedule well.

I wrote back saying sorry, the course is over-enrolled.

A day or so later, I got another email, with an added line about how having spent most of her childhood outside the country, she thought this would be a great way to fill in gaps.

The hint of a story made me write back: keep looking for courses, but feel free to email me back in a few days. I’ll see if anyone has dropped.

And for a lovely reflection on this day, and the day after, in history, please see thereadingtub



  1. Thanks for the link–wonderful post.
    Your potential student–I want very much to know what country she did grow up in and what books she read there! And congrats on being over-enrolled. 🙂

  2. yes, I, too, want to know — thus the maybe we’ll squeeze you in.
    Mount Holyoke prides itself on diversity, and from those I’ve seen in my class, they have reason for that pride. For one thing, it seems quite a few who grew up outside the U.S. On the first day, I have students take a “quiz” in groups identifying first lines of a variety of books. The idea is to work together and perhaps remember old favorites, and talk a bit about them and how much a first line says. But I think some students really had not read many and felt a bit at a loss, though I tried to downplay that – get in the group with the young woman who works at a daycare! As you suggest, those who haven’t read many of the books we have, have something else wonderful to offer.

  3. This sounds like the a great example of one of the basic concepts of business communication I teach in my classes: audience-centered attitude.

  4. Good, I’m so glad you’re teaching that.
    You have to worry about students applying for jobs — and, for some of them, this may be where their writing skills matter a lot. That those hiring are looking for enthusiasm, not, hey, this kind of fits into my schedule.

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