I don’t usually feel that I need to be told not to put too much time into teaching. I mean, of course I try to prepare interesting classes and good assignments, but I don’t spend 45 minutes grading a single paper or write comments as long as the paper itself.

But I had an idea recently about using crossword puzzles to teach Middle English vocabulary. And to reinforce facts about Chaucerian texts. And since I am a word-puzzle geek (acrostics, anagrams, Boggle, crosswords, cryptics, Lexulous, Perquackey, Scrabble), I didn’t think it would be that hard to create a puzzle of my own. A fun challenge, sure.

At 2:30 a.m. last night, I finally put the graph paper down and went to bed. Not finished, oh no, never think that. I had had a whole corner done at one point, if I accepted two-letter words, but I decided I wouldn’t do that.

I got a bit farther today, having worked out some principles yesterday; it also helps, I think, to have expanded the grid a little.

But as great as I think it is to have a crossword puzzle with a Book of the Duchess theme and many of the answers in Middle English, this is the sort of thing that no one will ever appreciate or give me credit for. Students will probably think there’s a web site where professors can download puzzles based on the Chaucerian work of their choice. My colleagues will have no idea how long it takes to do this, or why anyone would want to bother. This is not a good use of my time.

You can be helped. No one has to get hurt. Put down the pencil and graph paper, and back away slowly.

5 thoughts on “So this is what they mean

  1. If you use and re-use it for the next 10 years, the time becomes much more worth it. And, if you enjoy putting it together, I feel like you could create ways to get professional credit for it. Say, share it on your website but require attribution and an email, so that you can put in your promotion narrative that you developed a project used in X other classes at Y other universities (i.e., by your friends). Turn it into a CV line by agreeing to be on a panel on teaching medieval English where you talk about how it went. It would be even more time, but a short piece on it for one of the teaching journals might work.Students, yeah, they won’t realize. But tell them! Maybe if you make them write some words and clues, without the grid, they will appreciate the effort more, and still be learning.

  2. dance’s ideas are great! But I also think, if you had fun doing it, that’s worthwhile in itself. Not everything has to result in recognition, though of course it’s nice if it does.

  3. Dance, thanks—those are great ideas! I especially like the idea of making it available as long as people tell me where they’re using it, because that would get some attention in annual evaluations. And getting students to write some clues is a good idea as well—maybe see if they could do a 3×4 grid with at least one ME word.

  4. It sounds great, and I agree that this should have a prominent place in your eval narrative! “Researched, developed, and revised new curriculum materials” (and that’s before you even use it!). Plus, now your beloved word-puzzling can be officially called “doing research.” 🙂

Comments are now closed.