Sunday, October 11, 2009

(Academic) Angst

(Long rambling, pondering dreck to follow. Trying to work some of this out. Your thoughts are welcome.)

So, school is going better this semester. The class I'm teaching seems to be pretty good, and I'm pretty much enjoying teaching (of course, I'm handing out mid-semester evals -- their eval of me and the course -- so that may end on Tuesday). I'm taking three classes, two of which I actually have to show up for every week and produce work for, too.

I'm still struggling to care. I participate. I enjoy pulling apart some of these ideas and theories, just as something to do. I talk in class, I participate, I engage, mostly.

But I don't think I care. Or rather, I care, but... I don't know. My Monday class is called "Transfo.rmative Leade.rship." How to lead schools so that they create the kinds of humans we need to run our society in a just way. Sorta. I realized last week, that one of the pre-requisites for this kind of work, is Hope that schools *will* make a difference. I wonder if it's worth it. We're walking against the tide. With rocks in our pockets.

Students at my school are very privileged, and very bright. They can not understand school or education outside of the idea that its primary purpose is to help people get good jobs and "be successful." Liberal arts is great for making you well-rounded -- so you can be more marketable when you look for a job. My students readily volunteer and seem fine with the idea that public schools are there simply to make "workers." So everyone has a chance to be a worker. Why does the government (theoretically) fund public schools? because our economy needs workers. (Not thoughtful, engaged humans, but workers.)

So far, I've been able to challenge some of their ideas, try to think about the "common sense" of the world that they live in, to get them to actually ask questions like "why?" and "where did this come from?" rather than copying down every word I write on the board. Though most still do that. Planting seeds is what we aim to do. It's all we can hope to do.

These days, I mostly feel like the tide is too great. The tradition is too entrenched. Schools are not the place to create human beings, just workers. We need something else. And then I wonder if I would agonize over all this if I had a child or two. Would I have more hope? I guess I would need it.

I fear that I don't have the drive to do this anymore. I don't have the optimism, I don't have the focus. I'm so frustrated with aspects of my life, that I wonder what the hell I'm doing here. In school, I mean. I love to teach pre-service teachers to think about the way we do things and why, but I wonder if it's worth the effort. Our society will always be fucked up. There is no such thing as "fair" or "just."

And my dissertation? Um, yeah, uh... see...I am about done with classes this semester, except for the last big research class which is only offered in the summer. Comps next semester. Possibly other advanced research classes, as electives. But. I need to know what I want to study. For those classes. To focus my comps.

Yes, yes, it's probably still in here somewhere. But it's all over the place. And I don't know that it's going to be appropriate for the department I'm in. The program with which I'm almost done.

And I don't know how to get it out. Get it articulated.

I will probably do more rambling, whiny, angst written posts here. I need some place to get this all down, and -- whether or not you read and/or respond -- getting it down like this helps me articulate stuff, like I'm writing a letter or something.

Any advice or experiences from anyone who's been there/done that is greatly welcome and appreciated. Encouragement. Positive words. (No sunshine up my ass, tho.) Hope. I've talked with one DBM who said she had a similar experience, and she was way closer to done than I am.

Just feels like so much has shifted. It's not that I don't care about the theory, or that I can't work on that level. I just...I don't know. I want to feel more connected. Passionate. I want to do something relevant -- relevant to me, at least. Something that will do some good somewhere.

I don't know. Thanks for listening, though.


1 comment:

erica said...

I failed my comps, which took my profs hugely by surprise. This happened long before I lost my son, so I wasn't dealing with grief or its side effects then. But I think the failure was largely due to the fact that I wasn't as keen on my area of focus as I thought I was. Passion may not be necessary for everyone, but it was for me.

I wish I had some good, solid advice on finding (or renewing?) academic passion. I don't, but I think your instinct to find something relevant is as good a place to start as any, and I'm wishing you all the luck in the world as you work your way through this.