Thursday, April 24, 2008

Last class!

I recall a colleague of mine saying, not long after I started teaching at Emory, that the best thing about semesters is that they end. At the time, I may have thought that was a little cynical. But now I think I understand him better. I take genuine pleasure in the ending of a class. There is something deeply rewarding about participating in something that has a definitive conclusion; of course, its the same pleasure that narrative affords in novels and films. As you all know from narratology 101, that pleasure has to do with the fact that our real lives do not have the kind of definitive conclusions that short stories and survey courses do. (And as you know from narratology 102, the ending is never really an ending, but still.)

Anyhow, I'm pleased to have finished teaching for the semester today, and looking forward to the season of endings and beginnings.


Blogger rachel said...

It makes sense that you feel this satisfying finality. You always end your classes with such a rewarding and sense-making wrap up. We don't all excel at the flourish. I might show a movie.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Michael E. said...

The year Rachel TA'd for me was the best end-of-class story ever. Do you remember? My cell phone rang just as I was about to give the final word, and for a second I thought Jenn had gone into labor. If she had, and then I had just left with one more point to make -- that would have been the most dramatic teaching moment ever.

And isn't that what parenting is for? Creating material we can use in our classes?

9:15 PM  
Blogger rachel said...

Of course I remember; it was epic. I also remember your recovering and going on to wrap up the class with gusto.

The only thing my kid has provided me with this semester is the ability to go in to class tomorrow and say, 'listen, my kid spent yesterday puking on me, Frances Ford Coppola made this great movie of Dracula - let's put these two together and call it a semester.'

9:39 PM  
Blogger Michael E. said...

All you need to say is that the puking has helped you understand Dracula in a new way. Or that Dracula helped you understand the puking. Either way, they'll love it - trust me.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Jenni said...

This is certainly an argument for the utility of teaching for academics; without it, the days stretch on and on.

8:04 AM  
Blogger Michael E. said...

I do think a lot of people miss the structure of the semester when they are not teaching. On the other hand, the only thing better than being a teaching professor is being a professor on leave.

10:43 AM  

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