Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Three cheers for tyranny, unapologetic apathy..."

Grading beckons. I am tired. I'm taking a lifeline, here: the rest of this post is something I wrote a year ago to the day, a post from my first semester of teaching. It was written at a moment where my idealism and my pragmatism had a head-on collision. The idealism's been a bit worse for the wear, methinks.

I've made up my mind: I am going to stop caring.

I only get paid to teach, not to care. I don't have the time or energy to do so; I'm not getting paid for it. I just have to make sure my students can write at the college level. Well, most of them are there. My job's done.

For the rest of the semester, I will just be a grading machine. Comma splice here, run-on there. Good development of ideas. Relevance of info? Transition needed here. Cut the wordiness there.

I will stop taking a personal interest in the writing itself and in the development of the writer. While this means I no longer will receive the thrill of seeing a struggling student finally "get it," it also spares me the frustration when students don't or when they sabotage themselves needlessly. It also uses less ink, so I won't go through as many pens--quite economic, really.

I will no longer care when they blow off their work. Hey, it's less grading, right? A zero is much more cut and dry than agonizing over the rubric to determine whether a paper is a B or C. It's college, and they're responsible for their own work. Again, by not caring, I'll be spared the twinge of disappointment when they don't come through. Once again, I'll miss out on the joy of seeing a previously slacking student finally start taking things seriously and pull up his or her grade, but the trade-off is worth it in easier sleeping.

By eliminating the emotional investment in my job, I will become that much more effective. Classes will be well-regulated sessions with very strict lesson goals and a complete lack of flexibility. No getting off topic, no negotiation, no room for opinions or options. It'll be like an assembly line of information, a one-way communication channel from teacher to students. Hey, it worked for centuries, right? Maybe those dead white guys really were on to something.

I don't know why it's taken so long for me to realize this; I think my emotional investment in teaching had clouded my vision. Whatever the reason, I've straightened my thinking up. Apathy is the way to go.

... Riiiiiiight... now if I could just convince myself...
A year later, I think I've finally started to convince myself.

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