just bloody tired of it all

After today's class, I am tired. Tired of teaching students. Tired of trying to find examples that make sense to students who don't remember a world in which terrorism was not the major organising feature of society. Tired of trying to talk of other parts of the world that aren't the United States and Europe and having students stare blankly back at me. Tired of dealing with a textbook with a strong normative bias towards "what is best for/the concern of the United States" masquerading as a book on world politics.

I remember my International Politics class. It was, as is this one I'm teaching, the first class I had to take as an undergrad. We read writings (on dealing with colonisation) from Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Burma, and Philippines. We read diaries of explorers who went to China and PNG. We discussed whether Australia would ever have an "Asian" identity. We talked about if multiculturalism could "work" and how this beast might look like. We talked about trade and how to make the trading system inclusive. We talked about the effect of trading patterns on small farmers and how trade had changed since the colonial days. Colonisation informed much of the dicussions--as did human (indigenous peoples') rights and trade.

I dug out a photograph (the only one I have) from my first year--it's a picture of students from Nepal, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Botswana, Vanuatu, Nauru, Fiji, PNG, New Zealand, Germany, Sweden and, of course, Australia sitting around a table at the student union, sheepishly looking at the camera. It's a picture where teenagers are sat with grandmothers. It's a picture of a class I would like to teach.

Yes, I'm romanticising. Yes, it was a different, pre-9/11 world. Yes, it was (is!) Northern Australia so the chances of a terrorist attack occurring there are minimal (leaving time for other concerns). But the time spent thinking about world politics--the time spent discussing how all of us--different in our own ways and histories--had ended up there at that time and place has been as useful as learning about Realism and Liberalism.

I just wish my kids now had that chance--to gather around and talk. To put themselves in other people's shoes. To not write statements like "I have travelled a lot in Europe and I realised they hate me as soon as I say I am American". To learn that being American is fantastic but, to people elsewhere, so is being whatever they are.

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