My teaching experience this semester is very manic-depressive. The 10 am and 12 pm sections are phenomenal, engaged, curious, and hard-working. I come out of them feeling inspired and energized.
Then the independent researchers start visiting me in my office between 1 and 3 pm. In these meetings, I have to explain why 92 language mistakes on 4 pages of text translate into a failing grade and why Wikipedia is not a legitimate scholarly source.
The day culminates with my 3 pm class where students yawn and stare at the clock no matter what I do.
I’m beginning to feel that this is messing with my mental health because I’m constantly going from a high to a low.
Today, for example, I was talking about the current recession and felt zero response from my 3 pm students.
“Do you know that the world is experiencing a global economic crisis right now?” I asked.
The students shrugged and looked bored.
“Do you remember what happened in 2008 when the crisis started?” I persisted.
The students yawned and looked even more bored.
“2008? The housing market crash? The bailouts?” I screeched in a shrill, desperate voice.
The entire class turned their heads to the wall and stared at the clock. Have you ever seen 24 people simultaneously turn to look at the clock when you are talking? It is not a pleasant thing to observe.
Finally one student took pity on me.
“We don’t remember this,” he explained patiently. “It was a long time ago.”
Yes, 2008, that’s totally ancient history. I’m very happy that I don’t actually have to teach Ancient history to this group.
I’ve tried everything I could to awaken these students but the only moment in the semester when they came somewhat alive was when they saw my new haircut.
“Ah, you cut your hair!” said one of them with the animation I wish he invested into his studies. “VERY cute.”
“Yes, I like it,” another student agreed.
“I don’t know,” a student whose voice I had never heard in my life suddenly contributed loudly. “I liked her previous hair-style before.”
“I think she cut it for her conference talk this week,” yet another student announced.
Something must be seriously wrong with people who think the recession and the unemployment are less deserving of attention than my haircut.