Monday, October 06, 2008

my phd is . . . boring???

realised i haven't posted much about my phd since having that whinge about chomsky several weeks ago (how's it going, nimmersatt?). this is possibly because, since i handed in that stupid scholarship application, my phd isn't taking up much time, or much brain space. but, where i am:

i'm taking the one hard core theory class, which is a requirement of my degree. this class is frustrating. one of the reasons is that everyone in it comes from very different backgrounds, so we have little shared vocabulary or assumed knowledge. we spend a lot of time wavering from topic to topic and talking at cross purposes. the other problem is that the prof, though a very nice man and very well intentioned, isn't a strong leader, and we really need someone to pull us back on topic and make us define our terms.

last week i was presenting, so i executed a bloodless coup and took over for half an hour. it was very satisfactory. i made people brainstorm on the blackboard and kept making them talk about the article at hand, not whatever sidetrack they thought was interesting. i realised i much prefer being in front of a class than in it. i miss teaching. afterwards i was worried i was too bossy, but the people i asked said it was assertive, not bossy. a lot of my classmates find the class frustrating as well.

i have some reading for that, but the nature of the discussion means it's not necessary to read thoroughly. we also have to do lots of little reflections and presentations which take up prep time but don't achieve much (busy work!). the prof has given us a very generously defined final assessment, though, and i have an exciting idea for it, so things will look up.

my other class is a children's literature one through the library school. it's fun cos it's kidlit, and, oh, the fabulous books we see!, and it's interesting to see the world through the eyes of a librarian, but it's not theoretical at all. i mentioned doing a postcolonial reading of the secret garden and got confused looks. the class is just approaching the topic of children's literature a very different way than i do, and i don't find it intellectually engaging. there's almost no reading for this one. but, again, the final assessment should be challenging and fun, and i have an interesting presentation coming up with a lovely classmate.

and that's it. i wish i had taken on a third course. i'm trying to get more involved at uni, cos i seem to have lots of spare time. i have contacted the queer and women's departments in the student union - will keep you up to date with how it goes.


grotnothing said...

your post sent me into a frenzy of self-doubt

am i nice and well-intentioned,but boring?

am I a strong leader?

have i EVER asked my class to define their terms?

are all my exercises busy work???

i'm just going to hide in my stationery cupboard for a while

gumtreefid farmer said...

oh, i'm sorry, grotty!

this is a particular situation which demands someone forcibly bringing all our different disciplinary standpoints together. the intention of the class is quite vague, too. what *are* we discussing???

your classes are different. you have a point and your students mostly come from the same place (experience=wise, i mean, not geographically).

i feel like you are a strong leader, though. i bet you keep discussion running in a purposeful way.

come out of the cupboard?

grotcourage said...

thank you for that feedback, my darling, but you mustn't pander to my insecurities

- just tell me to get out of the cupboard and stand up like a man!