Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Hot Topics

This post is for me, so I'm sorry if it doesn't make sense because I've edited out too many identifiers.

I had a mild epiphany as I was drifting off to sleep last night (actually I fell asleep almost immediately after getting home. Right in the middle of MNF, too. So, what I mean is that when I woke up again and spent a dreary few hours trying to reorient myself through sleep-gucked contact lenses, I eventually took those blasted things out and tried to get some work done. Eventually at about 2 or 3 in the morning I gave up and went back to sleep - heap o' healthy, I'm sure, but I digress).

I specifically chose my field to a a bit vague. I straddle two field that generally don't play well with each other, but they're intimately connected. I like dealing with both and think that they are mutually supporting. The classes I'm teaching now are supposed to be Introduction to Gruub Studies (Topic A), which is, incidentally, the name of the department to which I belong, both here and at the soon-to-be-named School Of The Fall.

The trick is, that in teaching this class I've come to the conclusion that I can't teach Topic A, without going deep into Topic B. Topic B is very poorly supported right now at this university, so the vast majority of students have no background whatsoever in it - we couldn't even have it as a prereq (which it should be). I've had a great deal of fun introducing Topic B, but it has taken time away from Topic A.

I've TAed for professors teaching this class a few times, and they've always glossed over Topic B, and the students hurt for it. As a TA, I was always having to shore up the shaky Topic B information before the students could get a grasp of Topic A, and frankly, I'm not sure they were able to really get the Topic A information because they didn't understand Topic B.

The reason this is all so important to me is that this really helps me define myself. I've always thought that Topics A and B were of absolute equal value. I understand now that, to me at least, B must come before A, even if they are both equally important. Maybe this seems obvious to the students, but it's a bit of a flashing lightbulb over my head that clears some things up for me, even if this post is completely unintelligible to anyone else.

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