Monday, April 13, 2009

college life

Easter Monday.. back to work in the USA! If anything life in the USA is "where are you working?" in teaching college part time it is confronting the reality of the all encompassing work!

Thoughts from reading a range of blogs about college life. For many college students it is about juggling college and work. In my undergrad experience, I first had dorm life, then a job that paid for my tuition, then I finished college by having a roommate and being poor all the time! Here I am poor at the time, skipping class.. it had to be social psychology as I still dream that I missed class, an exam, and I have a paper due. (photo at Riis Beach, May 1977). The bus to the beach was at the end of the subway line at Brooklyn College. What a joy to go to the beach that hot May 1977!

Thoughts from the blogs...
students have problems focusing.... in meditating one tries to get rid of all the samsara of life. it is just hard to be focused, one trains oneself to do that. For 20 somethings there are hormonal and developmental issues still going on. I forever look at 24 year olds and see the zoning out. It is normative. Students often need to be kinder to themselves. Work work is generally immediate satisfaction and concrete.

On the other hand, one needs to prioritize. once again I have students who are away this week on vacation since their kids are out from school; or students cannot concentrate on reading but went to a concert on the weekend and had the best partying!

complaints about the adjuncts... colleges are businesses and full time professors are managing research grants or consulting contracts that bring dollars to the university! University professors will have graduate students, dissertation candidates, etc. It is the academic environment. I can understand some complaints but then again there is student grandiosity that involves thinking that one is so intellectually gifted one should be with the best.... allegedly, full time professors. Some of the best teachers are adjuncts or junior faculty. LOL, I know a whole number of the older generation of professors who slept with their professors to get their jobs. It was not about intellectual work. Once again, college is a work place. There is still who one knows! The "best" students will generally get some research or seminar projects. But, most students are not intellectually gifted. I visited one of my undergrad sociology professors in the 1990s. She was impressed with my graduate work and amazed that I never had any special projects in college. I have my intellectual gifts but I was an art major in college and spent all my time making art. As I said... I had that nightmare of the social psychology exam/paper for years!

I also loved Columbia because I loved the whole environment! The differing schools, the International House, the library! whoa what a library! The continuing abundance of lectures, workshops, the dynamics of a university in the city! So a perfect graduate school! Interesting to read another blog about out of town students fussing about the greatness of NYC. Wrote back that there is great diversity in NYC as it is a Babylon. Students often visit from their college which reflects the class/race/ethnic stratification in much of the US. Why should colleges be any different? People come to NYC for the opportunity as well as to get away from intellectual & social conformity; as to Chicago, Los Angeles....

Maybe 30 to 34% of students graduate from accredidated colleges (not Bible, mail order, online). Any business can say it is a college.. but is it accredidated? Will the credits transfer? The majority of Americans now go to college but also do not graduate. High school drop outs/age outs go to community colleges to finish their GEDs. I applaud my graduating seniors that it is an accomplishment that they are graduating! The last semester may be tough but it is all in their heads.. they are just almost there! Of course, one graduates and then everyone wants to know what "big" job will one get? College is not linked in with the overall labor market policy in this country. But one gets a diploma which will not be taken away. Jobs come/go and one's work performance is but one variable in a workplace. A college degree is a lifetime achievement!

I love teaching part time. I also like a regular job for the day to day interactions and normative reality of it. Teaching can be too isolating for me. I have no big interest in full time academic life because I like the bustle of worklife. I am like many social workers who teach part time in lieu of having a private practice. The students always add a dynamism to my intellectual life. Of course among social workers I also hear how research was their worse experience! I have always loved reserach. But I find my own projects to be too bohemian for normal science. My photos, altars, blogs, memoirs are more literary than social science. I have also always seen myself more as an organizer than a clinician although I have great clinical skills. I like being Professor... and never think of being Doctor.... I liked doctors until I started working with them.. but that is another blog....

hugs, peace, compassion

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