Photo by Flickr user withrow, here. (Licensed for shared use under Creative Commons.)
It's unseasonably warm and unseasonably beautiful today here in the Great Lakes region of Canada. We're all in a bit of a dream-like stupor about it. How could these sun-dappled fields become covered in snow and ice? It seems impossible.
They're building a new building about 20 feet from my office. So there are worker guys, there's a truly enormous crane, there's cement being poured. Watching them work in the sunshine, it seems so awesome and enviable. Outside on a beautiful day! Making something! Working together! Physical labor followed by a relaxing lunch!
These are all the things my job as a professor doesn't have. Or doesn't have enough of. As we all know, in the university, there's a lot of arguing, a lot of in-fighting over distribution of resources, a lot of criticism in every direction. Disaffected students.
A lot of teachers will say, "But I love teaching!" The truth is, I don't really love teaching. To do a really good job at it requires effort and caring, work in preparation but even more work in the classroom -- trying not to be boring, trying to see whether people are lost, trying to respond kindly and encouragingly to answers that are off-the-wall without other students getting confused. If that effort and caring happens in front of students who are surfing the web or just completely absorbed in something else, it's depressing.
But the time-warn cliche that I am happy to sign on too is, I really like students, and I love being around them. They're so full of energy. I love it. If it's not always energy for their studies, well, I can't blame them for that; I wasn't "good at" school at that age either.
They are so interested in one another, so obsessive about the things they are obessive about, so looking forward to the next big thing.
It's The Life Force, all around you, 24-7. Hooray for The Life Force! Happy Autumn!