Tuesday, April 27, 2004

norma jay, #4

I have been trying to think of when was the last time I have been in a church basement and the occasion hasn't been that someone has died. Anyway, today that streak ended when I taught my methods class in the church basement of the St. Paul's Catholic Center. The class was boring, even by my own soporific standards, but the students seemed good troupers about it. They were also good about getting out the folding chairs and tables to arrange the room--while I arranged my table and RV equipment and my podium, which was an upside-down cardboard box I found in the back room--and they conscientiously put everything away neatly. Many of the striking students had their union regalia on, and one student did one of the picket line chants fo me (which posited that if professors weren't going to support the strike they should "get off their asses / and teach their own damn classes**). On the whole, I would be lying if I said it wasn't sorta fun.

It also affirmed this gratitude-journal-like feeling that I've had over the past week, which is that even though there are some graduate students in our department who I don't really care for (mostly because they don't seem to like me at all***), a wonderful thing about being in a program so large is that there are so many really good and engaging and interesting students about, with such diverse interests and backgrounds and ideas.

* The traditional Iowa way of doing a funeral is to have the service in the church and the mournful lunch afterward in the basement. The lunch always has at least one bowl of scalloped potatoes and ham, made by one older woman in the church. To this day, I cannot hear the phrase "scalloped potatoes and ham" without it reminding me of death.

** Having no TA this semester, I would note that I am indeed off my ass and teaching my own class. I was talking to a friend this week whose at another university and she is teaching an undergraduate class roughly half the size of my graduate class, and she has a TA. I'm not really complaining about that, as I don't know what I would have a TA for that class do if I had one anyway; the only advantage of it would be if it allowed the department to fund another person.

*** One thing I will admit that I was not prepared for when I started this professoring-gig is how there could be students who would have an almost immediately dislike for you seemingly based less on anything about you per se but more about what you are perceived to represent within the larger academic ecosystem. That's perhaps not clear what I mean, but I'm not going to be more specific.

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