Yesterday was the first day of my “Age of Hamilton” course at Messiah College. I have nineteen students enrolled in this 300-level history course. History majors get credit toward their major, but about half of the students are non-majors taking this course as a free elective because they are obsessed in one way or another with the Broadway musical and its cast album. I also had one student who knew nothing about the “Hamilton” phenomenon sweeping the United States. He decided to take the course because he liked some of the Hamilton songs I played last Spring when he was a student in my U.S. History survey course.
I have spent about nine months thinking about and preparing for this course. I thought I was ready. Yesterday morning I woke-up, did some reading, went for a walk with the dog, wrote a blog post, ate breakfast, stopped at Turkey Hill for my coffee (McDonald’s is closed for renovations), and headed off to campus. Joy, my wife, sent me a text that read: “Good luck on your first day of teaching. Glad you are going to take your shot!” My daughter, a college freshman who I have been torturing with Hamilton songs for the last nine months, texted from Grand Rapids to wish me luck.
I got to campus at around 10:00am–plenty of time to collect my thoughts in preparation for the 12:00pm start time. But I had left out one small mental detail: the course was actually SCHEDULED FOR 11:00AM!!
So there I was at 11:15, sitting in my office goofing around online and drinking a cup of coffee when my department chairperson walked in. “John,” he said, “I just got a call from a student. You apparently have a class waiting for you in Frey Hall 241.” I was so convinced that the class started at noon that I argued with him. “That can’t be my Hamilton class,” I said, “it doesn’t start for another forty-five minutes.” I looked at the syllabus, which was sitting in front of me on my desk. It said that class started a noon. It did not occur to me that I had put the wrong time on the syllabus.
Finally reality set in and I realized, embarrassingly, that my department chair and students were right about the start time and I was wrong. I jumped-up and ran across campus to Frey 241. It was a humid day in central Pennsylvania so by the time I arrived I was sweating-up a storm. When I walked into the classroom I yelled “I AM HERE!” The class started clapping and cheering. They were just as eager as I was to start engaging with Hamilton and Hamilton.
I guess this means that we are off to a good start. It also means that I may have entered the absent-minded professor phase of my career. 🙂