My classes this term are rather uninspiring. I have a handful of bright and interested students, but the dead wood they have for classmates pretty much ensures that a cloud of doom hangs over most of the class meetings.
My approach to this has been to complain on FaceBook and just forge ahead, making my own fun. I've let myself spin off into many "non-traditional" areas in all the classes - - liberally discussing contraceptives in the survey course and tackling homonormativity in the women's history class. Hey, it was what I was thinking about at the time and I thought maybe it would be good to model intellectual processing/curiosity for them. Oh yeah, and talking about sex and sexuality tends to bring the focus back to me.
Anyway... there was a lighthearted moment the other day that I thought I would share. In my Tuesday afternoon survey (deadly time slot: 3-5:50pm), while I was prattling on about post-war suburbanization and urban renewal, a young, bright, but goofy student raised his hand:
"I'm sorry to interrupt you, but there is a really big spider right here and I was wondering if I could just take it outside."
Needless to say, there was a lot of head-shaking and laughter from the class.
I told him go ahead if that is what he needed to do. And he did. And then I got back to the Housing Act of 1949 and how it isn't really about housing...
I actually really like this student. He does read. He got very curious about Minor v. Happersett and looked up the court decision while I was discussing it and then read a couple of juicy bits from the decision for the class in order to illustrate my interpretation. He has written very non-traditional papers and essays, but they showed a level of engagement and thinking that earned him good (though not outstanding) grades. Okay, he interrupts a lecture to save a spider and the other students must think him nuts, but I like him. I'll take a creative spider-saver over a plays-it-safe regurgitator any day, given the choice.
3 weeks ago