Instructor Ennui

There’s a lot of bullshit involved in teaching. A lot of angst from students who can’t seem to handle that they get questions wrong. A lot of paperwork and bureaucracy from the administration. A lot of claims of being liked by students who are obviously insincere. A lot of self-doubt about presenting material in a way that would seem to make it virtually impossible for anyone to do poorly but the awful spectacle of seeing it happen anyway. And for me, it means cutting off my time in the office, dealing with clients and their problems, a little bit earlier than the partners would probably prefer.

I came back from teaching tonight deeply dispirited about the whole endeavor. I just wasn’t having any fun at all, even during a class with a fun subject. I felt this way last week, too, and thought it was the result of inadequate preparation. But this week I was prepared and I know I did well. Still, when I got home, I told The Wife that I wasn’t going to take any more teaching gigs from anyone; it wasn’t fun and wasn’t worth the money or the frustration of putting up with the bullshit. I’d rather have been at home with The Wife and the critters, even if it meant less money. I’m up late reconsidering that — but not very seriously.

This sort of thing can’t be unique to my experience. It’s not soul-crushing the way some other kinds of professional drudgery can be, but it was wearying to be up there facing a room full of rebellious college students who just plain didn’t figure out the material and seemed to think that it was somehow not their fault. Which bugged me because, didn’t I make the material interesting? Didn’t I tell them what to look for when they studied and prepared their quiz answers? How do I deal with the fact that half my students probably don’t belong in college at all but I’m not allowed to tell them that? Particularly for those Readers who teach adults, how do you handle this sort of thing?

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.