All around, a thoroughly amusing day.
I realized night before last, in the middle of my roommate's birthday/cocktail party, as I downed wine to ensure I would be able to fall asleep while the party continued, that the next morning, I would be teaching my first college class ever. I further realized, that given its 10 am starting time, and the fact that all the names on my class list were frosh, there was a good chance that I would be the very first college instructor these people ever see.
Now ain't that a trip?
So I'm up around 6:30 am, running around to make sure I got everything, back into the house twice because I forgot something, and I'm walking to campus. Its a nice 2 miles, very relaxing. And I arrived just in time to start my T'ai Chi class, which went suprisingly well considering how long its been since I've practiced. But I'm sore.
And then I've got an hour break before my teaching class, so I buy a bunch of Odwalla bars for breakfast, and head to the department office to see if they've got my keys yet. Of course not. There's no one there. So I sit in front of the library, and look over my first day notes and syllabus, and try to calm the jittery stomach. I always get this way before I teach, with my high school classes, my tutoring, even when I'm just a student and want to present something. It always goes away after the second sentence.
I figure that I'll arrive about five minutes early, plop my stuff down, and chat with the people that are already there. But as I walk down the hallway, there is a crowd of students outside the door, and as I reach for the handle, I hear one of them say:
"I don't know. I just called the philosophy department, and they said they'll try to find him, and that I should call back in a few minutes to find out where to go. Yeah, there's an ESL class in there."
I turn slowly--"You're not talking about the Critical Thinking class, are you? Philosophy 110?" "yes, the instructor's not here, and there's another class in there." "Oh, well, I'm the instructor, let's see what's going on."
So I walked into the room, and the instructor there insists that this is their classroom, and that its in the schedule. "well," I think, "I've been trying to change rooms anyway, maybe they got another one and didn't tell me."
And then I think, well, this was a creative way to get
my stage fright taken care of without going through the
first two sentences.
So we had class on the Quad, where they water the grass
so much that we had to stand in a circle for the whole
session. I explain that I didn't like that room anyway,
because it enforces the lecture style, and I think the
class needs to be able to do other things, so, even though
half my lesson is shot (I was going to have them talk
about how physical structure can enforce particular
teaching methods), this is all good. And I have them
introduce themselves, tell about their major, interests,
etc., and name an animal that tells us something about
them. There were 2 lizard lovers, 2 jaguars, a bunch
of dogs and cats, and various more exotic ones.
Then I go over the syllabus, talk about what critical
thinking is, and why I'm not going to teach it the way
the university wants me to, and give them their assignment
for Friday--to critique my syllabus and the argument I
gave them about what critical thinking is for. Class
ends 10 minutes early, and I'm surrounded by folks who
want to add my class. I take down names, and tell them
I'll have to see on Friday once the room situation gets
fixed, and chat with a few of them about
experiential education and engaged pedogogy,
and Paulo Freire. And I leave feeling
Much of the rest of the day is spent wrangling with
the department about getting a good classroom, finally
getting keys to my office, and trying to work out a
way for me to help our logic professor, and get paid
for it this time.
And then, finally, there's the reunions, everybody I haven't
seen all summer, coming into the lounge, hugging, welcoming, asking how the thesis is coming, how the
apartment hunt went, how those projects are going,
and sitting around and chatting and helping and
planning. Getting past the bullshit, the bureaucracy, and
This is what philosophy is supposed to be all about.