Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Damn Undergrads

Undergrads make their decision to take a class based on the strangest criteria. One of my students told me that she wasn’t really expecting to learn anything in ‘this’ class, but she found the discussions I fostered in class to be really “interestin” and she liked how I “stressed there were no correct answers in politics.” What! Was I on pot or something? Wait, this gets better. She liked how I was “not all politically correct-en-all.” I guess, on that last count I must confess, I believe in equal opportunity insults, though I am not usually a stickler for that point in class, especially not the ones that I teach. I do suspect she was talking of the one time I referred to the French as the cheese-eating frogs. Of course, she did not allege I was an easy grader. I am a niggardly grader... What other pleasure does an underpaid, uninspired and underachieving graduate student have to look forward to? Still, I suppose I should take all that she said as a backhanded complement, but... Sigh!

Somewhere out there is a website called ratemyprofessor.com and I and almost any other people who have professed anything before a gaggle of undergrads across the US of A are listed on it. We are graded on Ease of the course, helpfulness and clarity, with terse epithets summing up our performance. Individual listings also sport chilly-pepper icons (to indicate hotness). Needless to say my grouse is that I don’t have one...

Very Trying!

It is really hard to take yourself seriously, well any theory that you propose, when you cannot even devote the time to sketch it out in a convincing manner. I have been tooling with the draft of a research paper for far too long than I care to admit and I don’t think I have made much progress. Of course, the easy thing would be to blame it all on my fifteen-week old son… but I don’t think soliciting his intellectual contribution will further the cause of this doomed enterprise. Really! I think I need to exercise some discipline to make this three-ring circus work. While we are on that subject I don’t think I have put out a serious research note with any degree of perspicuity in the last two months. It has been the usual pedantic stuff. Suffice to say that I have just been driving on fumes. Even the STATA project at the University is stuck in second gear. Some days I am left with this immense sense of nothing! And I don’t know why? I am tired as hell!