Stirring the dull roots

I've never been much of a T. S. Eliot man, although middle age seems to make more and more of his lines ring true, especially that bit about April. I've blogged on this before, but Spring, which ought to be the beginning of things, is paradoxically the end of the academic year. In a few weeks, I will toss the cap and gown in the back of the car and drive away from another graduation ceremony. It will likely be a ludicrously beautiful spring day. It will also be the twentieth time I've done this.

I can't say I will miss this semester, although it hasn't been a particularly bad one. The first-year honors seminar has been a delight: such a good, tight-knit group. Last week we took a day off from Darwin and watched Errol Morris' "Gates of Heaven," a hilarious documentary about pet cemeteries in 1970s California. The students loved it. I made a big pot of Jambalaya and corn bread. I'll miss this group.

And it's been good working out the new scheme in Humanities 102. Not sure if the students are as interested in it as I have been, but I'm having fun figuring out how to teach it. We do Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony and Marx today. Nineteenth Century painting on Thursday: Ingres to the post impressionists.

Senior capstone? Ah, there's the rub. Now that the new core has passed (release the pigeons!), senior capstone is dead man walking. It will stumble on for another year or two, but it's execution is fixed. I may come to feel like a mortician rouging its cheeks and combing a few strands over its bald pate. But that's the thing with senior capstone: every semester I think I've done a wretched job with it, yet students continue to give me strong evaluations. I just never know. Some kid who sat sullenly staring out the window for weeks will linger after the last meeting to tell me how much he enjoyed the course. You would think after 20 years I would start to get a feel for these things, but I just never know.

Twenty years? (The very words are like a bell.) Apparently there is to be a little faculty recognition affair later next month, but is recognition really what people want as they slink past these milestones? As I said, April always comes off a little cruel in academic life. I hate to give Eliot that, but he nailed it.


Anonymous said…
i do measure my life in coffee spoons

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