I can’t agree more with the philosophy professor. This job isn’t everything I expected and sometimes I get dragged down by administrative garbage disguised as tenure and promotion policies. Sometimes I get discouraged by my students’ lack of interest in the coursework.
My latest favorite story deals with Student ‘R’ – he was one of a frighteningly large number of students who failed my midterm. He came clean and admitted that he had waited until 2 days before the exam to open his text to read 5 chapters and 3 articles. Do I take pity on him and work my butt off to help him pass the class? Or do I suggest he drop the class now and perhaps take it next semester from a different instructor? It is still Spring Break, so I don’t have to decide just yet. I am leaning toward the latter, however. Lord knows you don’t want an angry student taking his failure out on you when evaluation time rolls around!
I get discouraged by the petty office politics, by the colleague down the hall who I am quite certain must have gone off her meds last week (I am never quite certain which version of Prof. X will show up at the next faculty meeting, which does provide some entertainment value to what is usually a boring rehash of insignificant committee meetings and has little bearing on my day to day work life). I teach, I publish, I have bitch sessions with some of my colleagues about how immature and moronic the students can be at times. I still often rate my day in terms of how well my classes went…did I seem to reach a few students here or there?
So I don’t think I am burned out just yet. I may have changed my expectations since I first arrived just to maintain my sanity. I certainly don’t assign work over spring break – that is just asking to be disappointed!
So I choose my battles, engage those students who at least appear to be interested, and write because that is what makes me happy.