Well, class went well today, since the presentations were good. The first group presented on word choice, in a powerpoint presentation that was well organized. The second group also used a powerpoint, which had a little bit too much text, but their Jeopardy! game to finish the class was fun. The presentations took up the bulk of the class, so I only had time to mention the annotated bibliography. We'll be doing "in class" work on Thursday so that students do not have to do "any work" over spring break. G-d knows I won't, unless I choose to do some reading.
It's hard to make students pay attention, but the two groups were largely effective in this. If a student doodles, or takes notes, or off-and-on does a crossword puzzle during class, I'm inclined not to say anything. As a student, I don't take notes. I just sit in class and listen. Should I be taking notes? Why? I don't look at notes. I guess I let students learn on their own terms.
A couple real reasons we're having class on Thursday and not cancelling it: 1) the Writing Program has a bureaucratic paper trail nowadays for when instructors cancel classes. If one student mentioned class was cancelled to the wrong person in the Modern Languages building, I'd be in trouble. 2) I figure if students want to start their spring break early, and they've been attending class regularly up to now, then no big deal. 3) I know that my students don't even know what an annotated bibliography looks like, and also that my description of it won't suffice to get them to actually make one. An annotated bibliography is boring, tiresome, but necessary.
Teaching philosophy thoughts for today: geez, seems like every paper that I turn in for a grad seminar causes me to question my career path; I turned one in yesterday. I think I'm more interesting and charismatic than some of my English grad student colleagues (or at least I hope), but man, they f'ing outdo me in terms of work ethic. I don't even know that some of them do anything other than make of themselves literary criticism machines. And here I am; I can come up with a sweet idea regarding Nietzsche, Freud, and the egotistical modern self, but can't communicate is especially clearly, nor in any sense comprehensively (maybe I'll post the paper on this blog). Sort of makes me want to avoid the insecurities of academic work and do something different--teach high school English and coach sports (which I think would be awesome--I could coach football, basketball, golf, baseball I'm not so sure about), which wouldn't be so bad, and could be good; I could be happy doing that (save for the restrictions of teaching in high school and the fact that the students are required by law to be there). Or I could be an attorney-at-law, like my father. Or I could get my master's, teach high school English for a few years, then go to law school and restart debt-accrual from zero (probably all the way to $200,000 for three years to the juris doctor, but they pay you $50,000-$75,000 as an entry-level attorney). I still want to be an English professor at a small liberal arts college, then perhaps move into administration, but I'm smart enough to realize that to finish a dissertation, one's got to have more passion for scholarship than the idea that "I can't get a good job in English without a PhD."
What I need is discipline, or to direct my discipline toward things other than blogging, reading on the internet, lifting weights, reading the newspaper, cooking, eating, and the other things I do instead of doing my assigned reading and writing as a graduate student. Ah, the first step is the hardest to take. I know that I have some degree of intelligence, but I'm somewhere between the "together" person that does his or her work well and neglects other things, and the totally unorganized, puffy-eyed because of a hangover slacker.
G-d bless the slackers. --adam