Now I know what youre thinking, Wow, a Lord of the Rings class, glad youre putting your money to good use, and I would like to just ignore your blatant sarcasm and say thank you! While I appreciate your concern, this class is far more than just about Tolkiens works, as we explore concepts that we can directly apply to our own lives and discuss them in such a way that we are forced to consider ourselves and how what we have been talking about can be related to our lives now, and our lives many years from now.
The most recent example of this is the bard speech we presented in class yesterday, which was a short piece in which we had to retell an event from the hobbit in our own words and point out what can be learned from that situation. Many important messages were brought up including the dangers of greed, the ability to overcome obstacles that seem incredibly daunting, and the importance of perseverance.
In addition, this also gave us an opportunity to get up and speak in front of the class, which many of us were uncomfortable with but is something we need to get used to because, chances are, we will be presenting different projects for the rest of our lives.
In addition, this class gives us an opportunity to refine our ability to work in groups, as the largest assignment we have is one that requires us to work together to make a presentation about why LOTR is not meant to be youth fantasy.
By making us work together to build an interesting presentation in a creative medium, we are given the chance to use our different skill sets in ways that complement each other and lead to the creation of a great end project. It is important to work in groups because just like public speaking, it is something we will most likely be faced with to some degree for the rest of our lives. I know in high school I never worked in groups if I could help it, so this project is a good way for me to refresh my skill before any other classes require me to do it.
Also, while the class offers us a chance to refine our skills in various areas, it also gives us the chance to look at who we are now and how we want to be in the future. For example, throughout the hobbit, Bilbo grows to be much more than he was when he left the shire, many of these changes making him a stronger person. As we looked at this as a class we began to think about how, over our own journeys, we too will change and grow, and what we want those changes to look like. This is important because once we know how we want to be different or the same in the future, we can begin to examine how our actions today and over the rest of our journey will facilitate those changes. Going forward with the idea of where I want to be in the future, right now my destination is foggy. I know I want to get my Computer science degree and go on to get a job in the field, but other than that I have no idea what my life will look like three years from graduation. While not knowing can be nerve wracking, its not the end of the world. When Bilbo set off on his journey Gandalf informed him that he may not return, and if he did he would certainly not be the same as he was when he left, but other than that Bilbo had little idea where this journey would take him, and in the end he came home with a story to tell and a whole lot of gold, so if I take inspiration from his journey, I think Ill be just fine.
Finally, in response to your concern over this class being taught by a nursing professor, I dont think you could find someone more qualified. Ro has devoted a lot of time and money to the Tolkien universe, even becoming the editor for a prominent Tolkien site at the approval of his son. In addition to be a great guide through the world of middle earth, she is also experienced in dealing with the difficulties of college life having taught nursing students for so long. Overall, Ro and the class are great, and I am very glad I chose to take it!
Now that my first semester in college is coming to a close, you undoubtedly have questions, so I will do what I can to anticipate and respond to of them.
To begin, we learned a lot over the course of our journey together, and on our individual journeys through everyday life. Of course, being in a Lord of the Rings seminar, we did learn a lot of Middle-earths lore, from the creation, through the ages, up until we see our heroes go on their adventures and return home. While this knowledge does help us better understand the world of Middle-earth, it also brought with it in depth discussion on the nature of good and evil, fate and freewill, and a host of other topics that not only helps us understand Tolkiens world, but lets us apply our new knowledge to the world around us to see the similarities between our world and his. While we did learn a great deal, I wish there was more to learn about the wizards and different things theyve seen and done throughout the ages, as I find them fascinating, but especially in the case of the blue wizards not much is known of them.
Over the course of our journey together, I would say I have gotten at least marginally better at speaking in front of an audience, as we did it often in class, of course it remains to be seen whether this will persist past he end of the semester, as with new groups of people and entirely new situations I know myself well enough to know Ill probably not speak for a while. In the way of obstacles, I would say my biggest in this class, and my others too if Im being honest, has been staying motivated. Ive always had a problem staying on top of things and while I think I did well, there were times I put off assignments till way too late for no good reason. My main method of overcoming these usually involves stress, and anxiety, and me hating myself until I get up and do it, which are usually pretty good motivators for me.
This class has also been an excellent source of new experiences, as there were a lot of firsts with it being one of my first college classes, so the very fact that it is a class I am takin miles away from home is a huge new experience, but there were also little ones, like reading and watching the full Lord of the Rings series for the first time, which was also nice! Overall, I would say that the benefits of taking this journey far outweigh the negatives, as I have gained new knowledge and experience, at almost no personal cost so you cant really argue with that!
To conclude, this journey was defiantly one worth taking, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who might be curious. You get to go to class, talk about and debate books with other people, make new friends, and learn from an expert on the topic of Tolkien, so even if youre not a Lord of the Rings super fan coming in, youll still get some great experiences out of it!
Love you guys and cant wait to see you for winter break!