Monday, August 24, 2009

School is Cool!

It's the first day of school out here at UTPB, and as usually happens when things kick off, I am excited for the new year. My classes are great -- I am teaching an upper division course, "US History Since 1945" and, because of a scheduling quirk, two graduate courses, "The Historian's Craft," which is the foundational class for all of our MA students, and "Modern Africa," -- and I am excited about the books I am using, especially in Modern Africa and the US Since 1945. Normally we teach on a M-W-F or T-Th schedule, but because of a host of circumstances, I am on a M-T-W-F schedule, with the grad seminars on T-W and the undergraduate class meeting M-W-F. I hate teaching on Fridays because of conferences, but my schedule will allow me to get a lot of writing done this term, and that's always welcome.

The cynical question when my enthusiasm is at its peak is: "How long will this last before it is crushed out of me?" And about half of the answer to that question is dependent on my students (the other half is dependent upon administration, but that is a post for another time). A good, enthusiastic group can make the coming four months a pleasure. But all it takes is a few students, the ones always looking for the easiest path, the ones who come up with excuses easier than changes of clothes, the ones who smirk their way through a semester full of material they do not understand, to suck the energy from a professor. I am not teaching the survey this semester, which will help. It seems that the students absolutely least equipped to have any clue about what university life is all about have the most obnoxious criticisms. "There is too much reading! He grades too hard!" Not to put too fine a point on it, but how the fuck would you know what college-level reading and expectations are?

In any case, in an effort to nip some of the student excuses in the bud, I present to you the "Top Ten No Sympathy Lines (Plus a Few Extra)" that students try to pawn off on faculty and the responses from one professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. (Hat tip to Texas in Africa.)

Let the games begin!!!


Thunderstick said...

I can't believe you aren't teaching surveys! It's a good course. You should look into it.

dcat said...

You like apples?


Thunderstick said...

You got that from Vickers "Work on Essex County", page 98, right? Yeah, I read that too.

My boy's wicked smaht!

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes this is great, which survey are you teach, I would suspect 1302? I'm sure we will have stories to swap. I'm always amazed at the student who sits and stares at me while lecturing and never takes notes. All because one I get the guy that thinks he's big stuff and he knows everything about World War II or is because I'm so I would like to think that its the latter. But here's to a great year!

dcat said...

Actually, not doing survey this semester, but when I do it's always 1302. usually I rotate between 1302 (US Since 1877 for those not in the UTPBverse) and the 2000-level Modern Africa class, but this term we turned that class into a grad seminar based on need and demand.