Sunday, November 11, 2007

Halfway there? Not quite...

I refer of course to NaBloPoMo, but this could easily apply to my MA program as well. These past couple weeks have been really tough. I don't know if it's just the gradual wearing down of spirit, the incremental increase in workload pushing us over the breaking point, or just the realization that we still have THREE STRAIGHT MORE SEMESTERS of this (we work harder in the summer than normal school time, apparently), but I've found I'm not alone in my breakdowns. I've cried more in the past two weeks than in a long time (maybe a favorite relative dying? a pet dying? It's hard to say). I know I can get through it and it's probably not as bad as I'm making it seem, but it's bad.

One of the friends we went to Winter Park with was originally Peter's teacher in the teacher credentialing program, and when I told her I had regular quizzes, and not just quizzes, but READING quizzes, she couldn't believe it. This is graduate school, and that kind of pedagogy is apparently bad even in high school (so they said. All I know is I hate them). So yes, I have a paper, a reading quiz, and a test this week, and honestly, this is a pretty good week. Week after Thanksgiving, I have another reading quiz, a paper and a project due ALL FOR THE SAME CLASS. Um, couldn't you spread it out a little? Seriously, the day we get back from Thanksgiving? I know you want us to have no life other than the program, but this is ridiculous.

I really wouldn't feel badly about the amount of work we have to do if it weren't so unhelpful. I would MUCH prefer an in-depth research paper or presentation or even an exam where we had to analyze whatever to weekly "quizzes" where we have to memorize the answers to 8 or so questions that each could be the topic of a book with no original thought or analysis. We are counted DOWN for and original thoughts on these quizzes, despite the fact that this entire field still lacks so many concrete answers to anything. I spend so much brainpower with brute memorization of facts that instantly leave my brain after quizzes that I feel lucky if I can remember the main points of the chapter. Which points I'm pretty sure are supposed to be the reason for these stupid little quizzes in the first place.

Note to any teachers/professors out there:

Want to make sure your students read? Discuss the readings in class. Especially at a graduate level in a competitive program where you brag about how smart and motivated your students are, it will only take one class period of embarrassed silence and disappointed comments from the teacher before you get a whole class full of readers. Be consistent about discussing the readings each week. And don't assign more than any human can possibly finish, when you know our workload. We will NOT read 6 articles and 3 chapters a week when we have 5 other classes. But one chapter a week might be doable.

Thank you.

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