I am going to kill my cats if they keep insisting that I wake up at 5:30 am with them, even though they have plenty of food and water and a clean litterbox at that moment. It may have to wait until after I off my students and some really obnoxious bus riders though.
In other news, I experimented with a new recipe --- fall themed --- and have learned that a small head of cabbage really produces a lot of cabbage. So now I have a lifetime supply of braised cabbage with apples and vinegar, and I was only meh about the recipe when it was hot and fresh. Grr.
Still haven't gotten going on a piece of academic writing with an impending deadline. Argh, why am I so stupid about not working on this? I wish I could say all that energy I'm turning towards my applications is paying off with lots of stuff being finished and sent out, but that is not the case.
And, after a confrontation with my students today, I am left wondering if I am actually a Fascist. Not in a "oh no, I am so horrible to my students" way, but more in the way of a deep and satisfied recognition and sense of rightness about things. Consider it my version of Coming Out Day, I suppose. I am just not a fucking nurturer. And I've never seen the usefulness of all that shit on a college campus. As I like to point out to them, I'm not yer mom, I'm yer boss --- and after about four years or so of hard work for me you will move up to the next level where you actually get paid. And you know what? Nobody fucking gives out an A for motherfucking effort in the work world, awright? You give it your best effort and turn out a shitty product or presentation, you get fired. You need to have both effort and competence.
So why should I give you a break or make an assignment easier just because you want it? When you want something, oh students, I automatically assume that it is bad for you and that we need to do the opposite. Because I am not here to give you what you want ---- using a nutritional metaphor, you want nothing but ice cream and beer and it is my job to get you to try other things that may have nutrients you need ---- and similarly, there's no point in you doing exercises you can already accomplish or lessons you already know. You're here to learn the things you don't know and to be challenged and stretched in different directions.
Hmm. I'm simultaneously using the parental metaphor and the I'm not yer mom claim. Somehow it all seems logical to me when discussing things in class.
And this whole ungraded option? Ungra--- WTF!?!?! Um, no. Why do I instantly think you are trying to put a scam over on me? Seriously, here is where I am embracing my inner Fascist ---- I don't want to be in some situation where I talk and you write a big project and then you hand it in and everything is fluffy bunnies and rainbows. You take the grades out of the equation and other parts suddenly make no sense ---- what does my job consist of then if I'm not grading? How will I evaluate whether you are learning our class objectives if there is no grade involved? Where will the revision and improvement happen if I'm not critiquing and commenting on your work? What is your incentive to work and improve if we are not ranking things and evaluating them on quality rather than on mere presence? You're not producing academic writing then; you're creating fanfic. (and suddenly I realize why I never follow that stuff, aha.)
It was somewhere around this point that I realized I am very deeply invested in grades, and I take great pleasure in beating the shit out of my students through my grading, a tough love style premised on "that which does not kill you makes you stronger" philosophy. A philosophy deeply bound up with notions of punishment, and ordering, and ranking, and quality. You don't like it? Suck it. The first rule is never to talk about Fight Club. Now get up off the floor, quit crying, and do it again. Again, until it's perfect.
Not that I feel the need to do this to all my students ---- my first generation students and students of color, my very young students who have that lost, dazed look on their faces as it's clear they've been pushed in over their heads here ---- I'm quite patient with them and can really enjoy taking the time to baby them along, step by step, slowing down and really going over minute details of the research process that most people intuit or bluff their way through. (I've found that I really love teaching research, but the basic basics of research that other grad students kinda look at me with a raised eyebrow and a look of "oh come on, everyone automatically knows how to do that" but in fact my students don't have a clue about. Like problem solving what to do when the book they need is not on the library shelves.) But those students aren't these students, and I think the most important thing about teaching is not to start with the content or your interests but with the question, what do these students need to know? And these students over here at Alternative Academy need a good old-fashioned ass kicking and rigor. If only their parents believed it. Ah, the joys of working in the consumer model of education!