Monday, October 16, 2006

When Students Think You "Party"

So, this semester I've gotten to be much more relaxed about teaching. It could be the Prozac, or maybe just the fact that I'm a lot more comfortable with the material, but I've opened up and expressed my joy for said material- my joy for history- without feeling uncomfortable. And, I've been making a lot more jokes. Overall, I feel much better being there. The only problem is that now many of my students are convinced that I "party".

I've never really seen anyone address this issue, and I read a number of nerdy academic blogs. I'm not even sure where to begin with it. The problem is that I have one recitation that contains a lot of students who are, um, quite obviously experimenting with drugs. I could be wrong there, but they don't exactly keep it secret. Not only have I entered to hear them discussing the finer points of marijuana dealing, but a number of them actually wear tee-shirts that say things like "Stoned" on a regular basis. The funny thing is, they're probably my best group of students.

It could be because I make a lot of jokes in class, or because I respond to walking in on their conversations about selling pot by chuckling, ignoring them, and starting the lecture, but for whatever reason, an ongoing joke in the recitation has been that I seem like the type who "likes to party". Clearly, this is a layed-back recitation, because they make jokes about me, and I make jokes about them, and we clearly like each other. But, I never know how to respond to this. I usually go with something like: "I don't know what you're talking about", which basically just makes them laugh. Then I change the subject back to the material. "Well, one person who did not like to party was Saint Augustine..." It's admittedly a pretty lame tactic, and not one that works very well.

I can easily keep the subject matter away from marijuana for the rest of the semester, and I still seem to have control of the classroom. But, I'm a bit worried that some student is going to write: "He seems really cool! I bet he likes to get baked!" on their course evaluation. Also, I really think it's a good thing for an instructor to come across as uptight and nerdy. Teenagers are supposed to hate their instructors, for crying out loud. Hopefully, they won't expect that I'm going to be 'cool' with the grading!

I mean, it could be worse, but it's also hard to be the dishonest adult. I'd really like to say this:

"Look, kids, I don't smoke pot. I used to smoke pot when I was your age, and I'll still smoke it every once in a great while. But, honestly, whey you're my age, your idea of a good time is watching DVDs and eating ice-cream with your wife. When you're 19, it's totally normal to get a thrill out of drinking shitty beer or smoking skunk bud. But, after a while, you grow out of it, okay? If you're my age, and still smoke pot every day, you've got a problem. The same is true if you get drunk every day. So, enjoy it while you're young. Be safe. Don't drive any cars when you're high or drunk. Wear a condom. And stay away from the hard stuff."

1 comment:

gregvw said...

Hmm. I can see I am missing out on a lot of interesting things by only teaching maths.