Another First Day

Last night was the first night of my newest grad class, and this one, Educational Psychology, looks more promising than almost anything else I've taken in the program.

For one thing, it's taught by a male professor -- and I know it's probably a deep-seated cultural bias, but I have always preferred them; with a few exceptions, I find them clearer and more fair.  This one actually founded the MAT program at my school and ran it for 8 years (impressive) before stepping back into a faculty role (even more impressive.)

For another, it's completely impractical -- no promises to give you Real-Life Application, which is useful but becomes tiring quickly.  I'd much rather talk about abstract ideas than actual ways to improve my life, and I say that only half in jest.

Of course, it being a first day, there were bound to be some inane comments from people who don't listen.  Midway through the syllabus, the professor explained that he had accidentally left in the dates from last summer's course, so he would be sure to change them and send us a revised copy.  Not five minutes later came the inevitable question: "Wait, it says our paper topic is due on June 13.  Won't the semester be over by then?"

(To his credit, he was much more patient than I was, that morning, when I set my students loose on the second part of their WebQuest.  I was explicitly clear about what the project entailed and how it would be graded.  Yet hand after hand pierced the calm air to wave about furiously and introduce questions like, "What exactly are we supposed to be doing?"  When I asked if they had actually read the instructions, several answered honestly, "No.")

Actually, I have to admit that my favorite part of the class was the introductions.  Usually that kind of time-killing small talk makes my skin crawl, but it seems the professor is approaching the class as a shared experience, and finding out where everyone comes from (two horse trainers, two moms, a makeup artist and a weightlifter, for instance) was fascinating, especially when each shared his or her reason for embarking on a teacher-education program: many spoke of moments of clarity in the midst of draining, heartless CPA or investment-firm jobs, and of wanting to make an impact on students' lives instead of trying to reach their maximum earning potential.

Maybe they were just trying to look good on the first day.  But it inspired me to inspire my students tomorrow.