Saturday, December 06, 2008

Class as oasis

A recent article in the news reported on a study that said people who didn't watch much television were happier than those that do. Of course, the cause-and-effect chain wasn't clear: are people who watch more TV depressed because they watch, or do they watch because they're out of work and depressed? Who hasn't felt enraged and helpless at watching the AIG follies and the rest of the news?

The point is that when you're besieged by news that you're helpless to do anything about, including the terrible job market that Sisyphus has been posting about so eloquently, it's hard to stay optimistic. You do what you can to make things better and use what influence you have to create support, financial and otherwise, for job seekers. But when you talk to anyone, the talk always turns to cutbacks, job loss, bad times, and the follies of those in power, so even if you don't watch the news, you can't escape it. That's why I usually focus on the light or amusing or annoying side of life here on the blog. I want it to be an oasis.

I have noticed lately that the only place where I feel really happy is the classroom. I like to teach, anyway, and I enjoy my students, and of course it's more fun going to a class that you enjoy, but this is something more. In the classroom, the news is left behind. In the classroom, we're creating something--a discussion, an analysis, a piece of knowledge--that's positive in contrast to what happens outside the class. And in the classroom, I have control over helping something positive happen. No wonder the classroom feels a little like an oasis right now.


Anonymous said...

If you have tenure, teach whatever you damn well feel like teaching and call it what they expect the course to be. If untenured, do as you are told and kiss ass.

undine said...

I taught what I wanted to teach both before and after tenure, anonymous; I don't think anyone ever commented that I should or shouldn't teach a certain topic.