Friday, May 2, 2014


Today is the term's last day of classes where I teach. There is not really much left to do; the three classes I have had this term are getting what amounts to exam reviews (because I am such an asshole). They will also be filling out the formal evaluations we are expected to collect from students. Today should therefore be a fairly easy day for me, which I appreciate; I have a lot of grading to do, as well as quite a bit of other work. The extra time to do so and the relatively non-taxing class prep will ease those parts of my burden.

And it is a burden. Teaching requires a damned lot of work, as those who have done it know and those who have not done it refuse to believe. I have discussed this before, several times, as have others; there is no need at this point to recapitulate the arguments made (although this comes to mind). Those who will be convinced will be convinced by what is already there; those who will not be convinced by it will not be swayed by my voice if they have not been already. Many fall into the second group; they refuse to acknowledge that evidence is evidence, relying primarily upon confirmation bias to make sense of the world. That they are indulged is likely a weakness or apathy; perhaps it is forbearance.

That teaching is a burden does not mean it is not a good one. In carrying such weight, the bearer grows stronger. In carrying such weight, the teacher holds up the student, and if the student is looking, the student can see further. Seeing further, for the student adequately supported and attentive, allows for earlier knowledge and more time to accommodate it, to acclimate to it, to assimilate it and make it the student's own. It is true that not all who teach hold others up, and it is true that not all who are held up bother to look around--but few are tall enough to see far without the support, and even those few may not know how to parse what they see without having had the uplift. Certainly, no others will be able to see as far as they need to see, and the consequences of that blindness are not welcome.*

Next week, I will lay down some of the burden I have carried these past few months. Three sets of students will no longer be mine. Some of them will doubtlessly refuse to climb upon the shoulders of another again; others will eagerly scramble up, and of them, one or two will stomp down upon those who seek to raise them. (It is another danger of teaching, something I know because I am, of course, such an asshole.) But of those who ascend, some will be looking, I know. They started to look with me, and I have seen in them the desire to look more that I know is in my own eyes. And I am pleased to have helped to put it there for those who allowed me to do so; I could wish that I could say it for more of them.

*It occurs to me that I am being somewhat ableist in my language. I do not know how else to express the matter save through the sight metaphor. It is a failing on my part.

No comments:

Post a Comment