Thursday, May 21, 2009

Shooting People: A Largely Unteachable Moment in Texas

I really, really don't know how to teach anymore. Now, I recognize that I am tired. I got all my grades in for 7 classes (our load is 5 but I teach two extra--daughter at University, you know) and immediately started a Spring Mini, I don't know who all out there in anthropology/college land do those types of things. One semester in three weeks--that is three and a half hours a day for five days a week. So, yes, I am tired. I am white-knuckling it through these three weeks and then I will be teaching only online until the Fall. I am thinking of staying at home with salt and vinegar potato chips and a jug of wine until then. But, even so; I am fairly certain I have reached some crises moment--the moment when my students scare the shit out of me.

They seem perfectly happy with the idea of shooting people. They want to shoot the New Guinea Highlanders who run down hills toward them with stone spears. They want to shoot people in the parking lot if they are stealing their pick-up truck, they want to shoot supposed thieves in the yard of the next-door neighbour...in the back...as they run away. And now they can have guns on campuses and in the national parks--two of my favorite locations in the good old U.S. of A. In a world in which asking a student to stop texting in class rates a "dis" on rate my professor how can you begin to have a reasonable discussion of the issue. Not that I can remember the last time I had a serious discussion in class....not when I have to waste so much class time explaining that the pyramids where not built by aliens.

And they feel frustrated with me. I am naive and stupid for not wanting to defend myself. To them, I seem to be lacking some important, natural defense mechanism. I wonder if the vehemence of their opinions and their attack on me implies an underlying insecurity in their position. Okay, I made that up to make myself feel better.

I suppose the only consolation is that the one University of Texas student in the class looks as confused as I am. Perhaps that means that we will not shoot each other.

2 comments:

missivesfrommarx said...

Well, rest assured that you're not the only one who feels like this.

When I feel that way I try to remember that there's no way I can break through 20 years of socialization into the dominant ideology in just a semester.

It sucks though.

Pamthropologist said...

Suck big time.