Well, this week has been too long already what with painters and plasterers coming and going, and today we are going to have to clear out of the place by nine when the rug cleaning people come and finally when they are through the repairs will be done and then we are going to have to start putting stuff back where it was and all the stuff I have unplugged I will have to plug in again and that’s not easy since I have become a computer freak with no end of cords to plug in again. I sit there with a cord in my hand and think now where the hell does this mother go and sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don’t.
And this week as a supervisor I had to visit three of the TAs I supervise and one fellow lecturer for the purposes of job review, with more to come, though I am nearly done. I go sit in somebody’s class for an hour and watch them do what they do. I do this because I am supposed to not because I want to or feel that it’s very useful. Over the years I have learned that it’s pretty hard to help somebody improve as a teacher. I visit one person and think, well, that person will improve and I visit another and think that person is dead in the water. Some people learn from their teaching experience and others don’t. The first won’t benefit from my trying to help and the latter, well, there’s really not much point in trying to help.
In one of the classes I visited the teacher, a TA, was having her students do field work—observations and surveys—on the topic of the notorious IV Halloween bash. I sat with a small group while they went through their questions. The first question on one survey was something like, “Did you hook up over Halloween with a UCSB athlete?” I said that “hook up” might be ambiguous; and later others agreed. So the student changed the wording to something like, “Did you kiss, fondle, caress, excite or have sexual intercourse with a UCSB athlete?”
Now hooking up is not like having a date. It’s a kind of random thing. Like two people sort of bump into each other in a random sexual manner. So later on in the survey was the question, “Did you know this person before you hooked up with him or her?” Or something to that effect. Other surveys featured stuff like, “Did you do any drugs other than alcohol at Halloween.” And: “If you wore a costume was it conservative or provocative and why?”
Man, did I feel old. And stuff like this and stuff in my own classes has led me to feel increasingly alienated from the students I teach. Hell, this stuff has made me not like them, as a group. I really don’t like to be judgmental because being judgmental gets in the way of understanding and I want to understand. But when you don’t or can’t understand, it gets to be too easy to be judgmental. The first time I had sex I knew the person; we had spent considerable time together; and I was stone cold sober that first time and I am glad now that I was. I can remember it.