Sometimes it happens

Let's take just a moment to keep things in perspective here at the end of the term, amidst the crush of grading, the strange end-of-term service commitments, the influx of lousy weather and such. Today, I want - Monday that it is - to ask about what one good moment in your recent academic life has been. Something specific - not just that you're employed or some-such.

For me, it's that as I was grading papers this weekend, asking my poor freshmen to venture their views on art and to offer me an example of something artistic that fits their definition, I had a student lay me out. It was the sort of thing that I had to immediately run to Google to check. How had they seen that? Who on Earth were they, a silly freshman, to like it?

They wrote it. They liked it. They had well-thought-out reasons.

Sometimes they're deeper than I give them credit for. Sometimes they surprise me.


8 Responses to “Sometimes it happens”
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Dr. Crazy said...

Another grading one, where a student surprised me. The student is a sophomore or junior, and at the beginning of the semester gave the impression of being sweet if a bit dim, a sort of typically conservative sort of student. The student wrote the major paper in the course on a gay novel and built his argument about the novel around Foucault's theories about the implantation of perversions. Was it the best paper I've ever read? No. But this student went way beyond the minimum expectation for the paper and went out on a limb to pursue ideas that were exciting. Give me that any day of the week over the Bland B sort of adequate ideas that bore a reader to tears. Any day of the week.

December 3, 2007 at 2:46 PM
~profgrrrrl~ said...

I received an email, out of the blue, a few weeks after a conference presentation telling me that I had done a great job and my research is really interesting, but that the best part of my presentation was my clear enthusiasm and passion for my work. It felt really good to know that someone else could see it. :)

December 3, 2007 at 3:14 PM
Dance said...

I've been commenting a statement of purpose, and I'm pleased every time the student pushes back at my critique, with excellent responses.

A nice occasional feature for the blog!

December 3, 2007 at 5:15 PM
kermitthefrog said...

Last month, I got offered (and accepted) a promotion to an administrative role in our annual TA training session. I get to help structure workshops and interview, select, and help train the grad students who'll be giving those workshops. Which means that the organizers a) liked the teaching job I did last year, and b) recognized that I have organizational skills that could be put to use. And c) I will have power and dollars. Ha.

December 3, 2007 at 5:46 PM
adjunct whore said...

i'm afraid to jinx anything positive happening with me right now, so i'll say that what began last week as a terrifying problem (see post on race & identity) not only turned into a really fabulous teaching opportunity in the classroom, but also translated into 5 separate, intense, challenging, conversations about individual student's personal discoveries about racism. i feel kind of good about this. surprised, really tired, but good.

December 3, 2007 at 6:44 PM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

Well, I hope I didn't help anyone jinx anything.

I'm just trying to swim against my own cynical tendencies a bit, and it's always nice to have folks along. Thanks for sharing, and hopefully more folks will keep it coming.

December 3, 2007 at 7:45 PM
ash said...

the day my department decided to hire a good friend from grad school :-)

December 3, 2007 at 8:50 PM
Rebecca said...

I'm still a PhD student with no teaching duties, so mine is related to an interaction with a faculty member at another University. I volunteered to do a manuscript review for him and got the following response:

"I'm sorry, Rebecca. (Big name in my field) and I made a rule early on about only one doc student reviewer per manuscript, and this one already has one. It's a bit silly because (between you and me) your reviews are stronger than most of the prof. reviewers. :-("

*blush* made me feel like I was finally getting good at being an academic...

December 3, 2007 at 10:11 PM