Friday, November 14, 2008

One Good, One Bad

The Good:

I've started the project with my comp classes. Introduced it, anyway. To set the thing up, I had them poke around on No Impact [Fellow]'s blog, and next week we'll be reading selections from Judith Levine's Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping. I'm not sure that this all quite qualifies as "good" yet, seeing as it's far too soon for any results, but I was greatly heartened by an email from a student this morning. Granted, she's a very bright and lefty sort of student, but nonetheless it cheered me. She was emailing me her assignment re. NI[F] because she was sick, and she wrote--to paraphrase--that she is so interested in his experiment that she couldn't stop reading his blog and has convinced her roommate to do an experiment next year to see how much a pair of students living in a dorm can reduce their negative environmental impact. Since the merest glimmer of evidence of an activist sensibility in my students delights me, this pretty much made my day.

The Bad:

I have a Committee Assignment, which is not, in itself, particularly onerous. However, this is the year in which the English department's relationship to this area must be Assessed--or start to be Assessed, for this is a three-year process--and it must be Assessed in accordance with State Standards. (For some reason euphemism sends me into eighteenth-century habits of capitalization.) So my job, this semester, is to work out which of our courses address which of approximately 8 billion indecipherable criteria.

On Wednesday night, when I, exhausted, was shouting furiously and shaking my wineglass at my computer screen, an apt description of this project occurred to me. I was inspired--I saw it perfectly: It's as though a patently crazy person, perhaps one with severe paranoid delusions, had contrived an elaborate and patently crazy scheme, and I was being forced to carry it out. Yes. This is exactly what it's like.

Fortunately, my little breakdown and shouting fit seemed to have shaken something loose, for later that evening I was able to approach the document with a sanguine calm hitherto unknown to the process. Perhaps I will actually get it done.

{The picture strikes me as doubly appropriate: Even as I scheme to impose my elitist liberal values upon my students, so does the madman of the State compel me to carry out his preposterous directives.}

1 comment:

What Now? said...

The Project sounds very cool, and I look forward to hearing more about how it works out (and, of course, maybe stealing parts or all of it for my own uses in my ongoing attempts to take over the world).