another brick in the wall

That sound yous hear? My kids plotting revolution and attempting to sing "Do you hear the people singing..." as they are cruelly shot down by the evil oppressor (me, in this case) and the seats of the classroom are adorned with their (figurative) blood.

Yesterday's class involved my finding out the classroom had been changed* and having to walk around uni in confusion before finally finding where the new room was. Of course it was at the other end of the uni from where the class originally met. Of course it was the one hot day in the past week. Of course I was wearing trousers and a (full-sleeved) shirt. Sweaty and irritable is not the way to start talking to students.

Then, the technology (projector and screen combo) didn't work properly so I had to wait for the tech bloke to come over, my kids were restless (and so was I) and the way I had expected (planned in my head) the class to go was all shot to pieces.

The actual class itself, once we got going, seemed okay. I still need to find ways to get them to talk more and also figure out how to deal with some of the more rumbunctious (is that a word?) students (those who say their "interests" are "$2 beer specials at Clyde's"** but it's difficult (for me anyway) to get into stride once my (imagined) way has been disrupted. I'm sure, with practice, I'll be taking these little hitches in stride but, hey, that takes time. And, these students are my guinea pigs.

One difficulty so far is the students seem to expect me to give them notes and points to write down. Their pencils are poised over paper, as soon as I put up my slides, though I have mentioned repeatedly that the slides will be on Blackboard (hence, no need to take down notes). During discussions, each student talks to me rather than to each other. Considering this was only class no. 3, I do have time to work with them on making them more comfortable and discuss things with each other but it's interesting to see patterns I've noticed in class, while I was (am!) a student, being repeated here when I'm at a different position with relation to the rest of the class.

Yous will have to wait and read how things go as the semester progressses. But, not if the rumblings of revolution become an earth-shattering roar and this scenario comes about:

Any class now I expect one of them to say "Oh, Professor, eh. Lovely. And, how did you get that, eh? How? By hanging on to outdated academic dogma which perpetuates class and power differences in our society"***.

And, I'll be going: "But, I'm your professor"

Them: "I didn't vote for you!"...."Strange men handing out contracts are not a basis for a system of teaching. Supreme teaching power derives from a mandate from the classes, not from some farcical contractual appointment!"

I'll probably have nothing to say to that. Read about it in upcoming posts.

* Oh, I was informed after the class. Yes, yous read that right--after.

** As is usual in these cases, I realised afterwards I could have turned this moment into an example of a research question. E.g. hypothesis: country with large number of beer drinkers, low birth rate and democratic = high GDP per capita. During that time, I just said "Right. Useful information, I'm sure but that's hardly going to help us right now, is it?"

*** Nicked off, who else, Monty Python.


At 9/10/2006 3:25 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

Well, as long as they don't reference watery tarts, you should be okay...

At 9/11/2006 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

write you lazy bum! how did the group class come along? am currently TA-ing a chem lab and have nothing to do since i think the others are too weirded out by me (as they say here) to ask me questions. they wait until the prof's free and ask her instead. i can't imagine why - with the lovely friendly face i've got!

At 9/11/2006 6:26 PM, Blogger Priya said...

E: any moment they will be calling me a watery tart and plotting a coup.

"Anonymous": It's probably the piercings that weirded them out :-P

I wrote about the group class--but couldn't make it the least bit amusing :-(

At 9/13/2006 2:44 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

Well, it's hard to make small groups amusing. Cover them in paint and throw them at walls, maybe. But other than that...

At 9/14/2006 1:36 PM, Blogger Priya said...

Heh--just spent time discussing why theory isn't stupid while thinking of why it could well be stupid!

At 9/15/2006 12:53 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

That sounds like fun to me.


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