10 January 2006

Academia Ain't My Thing

I think I can write, and I know I can teach, but I am feeling extremely challenged teaching students to write academic papers. This term, I was “awarded” the highest level class, the one students take before being admitted into the degree programs. It is only a four week course, and if they fail, they do not pass GO and do not collect $200.

This week I am supposed to teach them how to write a “critical review”. If someone told me to sit down and write such a paper in response to a given article, I am sure I could do it. Teaching it is another thing, especially since neither the student’s book nor the teacher’s book actually tells you what is required. I have been doing cartwheels and back-flips trying to get lessons together that might actually teach the students what they need to know.

Tomorrow I am supposed to introduce Oral Presentations, which they will be required to do in four weeks. Is there any real information about exactly what is required? Not to my understanding of the book. And how are they supposed to choose a subject? From my umpteenth reading of the text, I assume it has to be on something related to English as a Global Language, but it all seems very vague. (By the way, please note the two examples of rhetorical questions in this paragraph. At least I was able to explain that one today.)

Most maddening about it all is that I am required to teach a bunch of extra hours which I did not want, especially after last terms crazy schedule. However, it will only be for four weeks, and there is a two week break in the middle, so it is not the end of the world. (Although yesterday morning’s class had me really wondering about it.)

I guess it all really boils down to the fact that I don’t like anything even vaguely academic. I am trying my darnedest to make the class entertaining, as it is my solemn belief that if people are laughing, they are learning. But god, how can you make note-taking on a lecture about making processed bread in Australia fun?

It isn’t all bad. I do enjoy the students and I still like teaching. I just don’t like feeling that I am not giving them enough of what they will need to pass the course. Who knows, maybe we will all land on Marvin Gardens and life will be bliss.