You know, my classes this summer term are going well. I really don't have a thing in the world about which I have a right to complain. I admit this up front, as I don't want to give the impression that any complaints that will follow are actually legitimate. They are not.
But, well, the thing about summer teaching is that everybody - students, me - is done. Students take these courses in order to finish more quickly or because they're hoping for an easier version of something that in the regular semester would give them trouble. Faculty teach them because they want cold hard cash. In other words, nobody's primary agenda is the whole "learning" thing. Now, in my one section, the students are learning a ton, and it's really been quite awesome (and unexpected). In the other course I'm teaching, though, I can't help but feel disappointed. It's not that they're not doing the work - they are - or that they're not engaged - they are. But. This course is one that I teach during the regular semester - every semester now - and the vibe over 16 weeks is just so much different and I totally miss that vibe. Again, it's not about level of engagement or about anything that they're not doing. In some ways, they're doing more than students in previous sections of the same course have done. It's about the fact that in the full semester, they've got a lot more time to process, something from which I think this particular course really does benefit. It doesn't really make the grades any different, but it does make the experience different - for them and for me. And the fact that they're not processing in the same way - in spite of my effort to accept them as they are and whatnot - really does disappoint and discourage me. And this is not my best mode as a teacher.
See, here's the thing: when I'm disappointed and discouraged, I kind of suck. This is one reason why I've done everything in my power to end my days of teaching comp. Comp makes me disappointed and discouraged. It's not that I don't do a good job of teaching it - I really do, according to evaluations and according to colleagues across the university who've had my students after they've taken comp with me - but I actively loathe the whole idea of doing it, which makes it suck in its own special way. This is not unlike how when I was in school I could do the work of an algebra class, but because I wasn't into it I couldn't fully commit to really learning in a real way. In other words, I lack the ability to really push myself when I'm not totally into something. I'm really good at feigning enthusiasm, but the whole "feigning" part makes me really depressed. And the thing that sucks mightily about the one course that I'm teaching is that I see that they aren't processing in the way that really excites me, and then this makes me not want to teach (or to grade, or to prep, or to do any of the things that make my teaching good.)
I forgot my book today and I didn't even care. I just taught and didn't give a shit that I didn't actually have the text in front of me. This isn't a good sign. No, indeed it is not.
Now, the other class is not disheartening in this way. In fact, it is like this glorious pleasant surprise where nobody - not them, not me - had anticipated liking anything about it, and yet we're all wicked engaged and into it. So that's great. And yet, I'm tired. And they're tired. And that, in and of itself, detracts from what can happen in there. Now, I'm probably going to teach summer school for the next couple or three summers. It's the whole "cold hard cash" thing, that really is alluring. But after doing it this time, for the first time, I'm really thinking that I think the whole concept of summer classes is wack. I think people need time to rejuvenate, and I think that probably the whole summer school thing actually gets in the way of what students have the potential to learn. I know that there is no likelihood that such a schedule will be abolished - there are good reasons for it - but I don't think it's actually positive in terms of education. Yep, that's what I think.
So I'm really looking forward to being done after next week. And I suspect my students are as well. Thank god we've only got this week and next to slog through.
In other news, it's still Kitten Central over here. And I've got a couple of pictures for you.
First, I managed to take a picture of the forced bathing of the wee Mr. Stripey. The thing that's hilarious is that Mr. Stripey seems to think that it's the Man-Kitty's job to bathe him. Sure, he'll periodically do some self-maintenance, but when he wants to get really clean, he'll just annoy Man-Kitty until the Man-Kitty does something about it. You will be happy that I didn't actually get a picture of the M-K taking care of the wee one's bottom, which is really kind of gross. And for those who wondered at my use of the adjective "maternal," well, all I can say is that the Man-Kitty refuses to be gendered masculine. He's a very enlightened kitty :)
You will also notice that there is a Glorious Shoelace in the above picture. Now, as I noted long ago, the Man-Kitty loves him a shoelace. My dream was that the two of them would find a way to love a shoelace together. This dream, my friends, is a reality.
It's like a game of tug-of-war, though with CATS. I can't tell you how entertained I am by this (and also how awesome it is that I am no longer central to shoelace play).
1 year ago