Reflections on the First Week

So I'm pretty tired after the first week. This owes mostly to the fact that I agreed to do too many things and they're all coming to a head right now. Also, I suppose, it could have a little something to do with the fact that I still try to sleep like I'm in college with all my classes starting after 1 pm.

The term itself is going to keep me busy. Just to help everyone keep future grips in perspective, I'm teaching four classes. But due to high numbers of transfer enrollment and such, two of the courses - which are mandatory and only offered this term - have been forced to take in more students than is normally allowed, enough students to warrant another section if only there were someone else to teach it. They're targeted at seniors. My other two courses are primarily freshmen level intro courses. The freshmen intro course will likely be the only academic joy of this term.

The first week's courses went well. The freshmen are starting to loosen up, and the seniors are starting to clamp down. I got to give another version of the "why I believe in education" lecture, and that alone gives me a little extra joy for the term. I like the freshmen class here because I get to do a lot - this week we didn't actually approach the subject matter of the course, but instead spent it on how to take notes, expectations of the hypothetical (and not-so-hypothetical) professor, how to start thinking about citations, and then, why education might matter.

The seniors are tougher. Each year's bunch arrives in a different state. Last year's were panicked about the real world. This year's seems largely indifferent. I've begun forming a list of which ones I expect to see mentioned in the police blotter. And that's a shame, because there are a lot of good ones in the group, but right now, there's just a feeling of dread that comes with the course. Let's hope I find some ground with them shortly.

Our new faculty member has arrived, and I've been trying to make sure to check in on them. It's odd to think about myself as somehow senior in this moment, and I'm struggling to remember what it was that I struggled with my first year. I was fortunate, having had a good friend here when I arrived. Any advice on things I can help with?

Obviously, as recent posts have shown, I've been thinking about the election. Part of the fascination has been due to a feminist colleague who was a Hillary supporter, and who told me - prior to the Palin nomination - that she still wasn't sure she could vote for Obama. I cannot explain to you the need I have to poke at this.

I've also decided that because office hours are such a huge waste for me - I can never quite get real work done because I'm always thinking someone's going to come in and interrupt me - that I'm going to try and use them to read things that are work-related but not quite on the immediate research radar. It'll be my time to read non-fiction, the way a half-hour before bed is when I read fiction. We'll see how it goes. My first book for the experiment - possibly my last - will be Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine. I expect it will make me angry in about six pages, and we could bet whether I'm able to get through it without getting completely apoplectic.

Anyone read it? Anyone want to read it with me?

Nothing's jumping out at me fiction-wise, which is probably alright since I don't usually get as much read during the term as I'd like. There are a few on the list though that I'm waiting to find in paperback that might well have what it takes.

All in all, it hasn't been a bad week. Now if only I can finish a few things on my list that aren't about bringing in tons of guest speakers.

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Chaser said...

I actually assigned that book to freshman last year. I'll be interested in your reactions.

August 31, 2008 at 10:18 AM
ash (on leave) said...

angry/apoplectic because of the subject matter, or due to the author (whose style rubs some people the wrong way)? i'm one of those people, but i should admit at the outset that it is probably at least 90% jealousy. she's my age and there was considerable overlap between her work and my diss...not that i have ever wanted to be a media darling, but it's hard not to have moments of "uh, no fair!" when you see someone get that much attention. (i know, i'm a terrible, childish person!)

and also: you have a feminist colleague?? you mean at another institution, right?

August 31, 2008 at 3:29 PM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

I'm okay with the author, at least in the small doses I've generally encountered her. So I'm thinking angry likely by virtue of the subject matter.

The feminist colleague in question is, in fact, local, though I did have another who is elsewhere who had been thinking similarly.

August 31, 2008 at 5:11 PM