My tenth grade English class was one of the most remarkable classes I've ever had. We read, wrote, and thought more in that class than in any other class I had in high school and many I've had since. One of Janik's classic assignments was the index cards. At any time, we were supposed to have a good stock of 5x7 index cards, and most days he would start class by giving us a quotation, or a word, or a picture, or some such thing, and we would have to write a card about it. We could write anything we wanted, as long as it related to the topic. When we visited the art museum, we were assigned a number of cards to ensure that we thought about the art. Whatever we did, we reflected on it on 5x7 index cards, and I generally loved it.
Even then, I appreciated the pedagogical value of making us Think. Until today, though, I'd never noticed a direct correlation to other academic work. Today I was sitting with Psalms and the Life of Faith looking for another passage to reflect on so I can finish my book reflection, and I realized that I was writing Janik cards. They're a bit longer now, and the language is a bit more polished, the thoughts more fully worked out (sometimes). But those cards were direct training for a lot of what I'm writing now, and to enable me to find something thoughtful to say about nearly anything if I have to. It also makes some of my current assignments feel a little bit more enjoyable to think of them as large index cards... instead of 5x7, they're 5-7, but the reflection process is much the same. Hunh.