After today, I have two more college art appreciation classes to teach. Impossible as it is to believe, retirement from this job is my future, and with a monthly payment! I cannot believe age has “got” me, and I cannot believe that finally the students/administration have done the same.
I have loved teaching the uninitiated about art; the explaining of odd connections, the idea that beauty is not the first consideration in understanding the work, the concept that to look at art is to comfort your humanity and help you feel not so alone. We are currently having a fight in this state as our governor eliminates our arts commission with every new budget, each year. Then the art community roars up, demonstrates, and the veto is overridden by the legislature. Someone posted on Facebook yesterday a comment made by Winston Churchill during the panic of WWII. This bureaucrat wanted to eliminate funding for the arts so the same money could be spent on war needs. Churchill said NO, what would we be fighting for without the arts?? What a guy.
My students come into my class at the beginning of the semester and think we will spend great chunks of time talking about the color red, or the color blue. They are sure they will not have to study, and do not. They believe that one has to write and think concurrently only in English class. Some think all they have to do is attend class to earn a C, because that is the way it was in high school. Their passivity to my stupid theatrics in trying to teach is stunning.
Sometimes I think that adjunct professors are the only ones strong enough to say that the emperor has no clothes. Others are afraid for their jobs. Some want to implement every new learning tool when the majority of our students do not read well, because at some conference or another the existence of this tool at our school will make the school look good. Students are advised to take classes on line when they cannot use a computer. We call teachers “leaders” and use teachers less and less in remedial classes. People who cannot read or write sit at a computer and do gawd knows what while teachers troll around and make sure students are working. New teaching ideas are implemented because we can get a grant for them. We lost our “writing center” after a number of years when the grant was gone. With it, the one tool that I could suggest for students to help with written work and to accomplish what should have been in grade school, was gone. No grant money.
My daughter recently graduated from Davidson College. During her time there, no on line classes were offered. Last month, the president of UVA, Teresa Sullivan, went through the horrible trauma of being fired and then reinstated, one reason being that she was perceived to be slow in adopting new learning methods. These two institutions are simply giving students a quality education. Students cannot teach themselves for the most part. They need an authority figure, a person present to answer questions and to stimulate thinking. In the case of two year associates degree colleges, people attend who have no idea what college is. Their parents did not attend. They need human beings in the front of the class to model the middle class values necessary to succeed in this middle class institution. My students are not getting this.
I am tired of being the part time person who has to give the message to a student in his last semester that he cannot read well enough, cannot make a sentence, or has no idea about critical thinking. It is not fair that a person who is not a “real” member of the faculty to have to do these difficult jobs. I am not paid enough to have to do this and worry all semester about the fact that I have to. Additionally, an adjunct has no power to put in place any solution to these particular problems.
It is true this blog has never strayed from the idea that things can be done on the cheap if you are willing to work. I would like to say this to our administration, and our students, but it would be like spitting in a hurricane. From now on, I am going to take my work ethic and apply it elsewhere. “Waste as a Way of Life” does not mean what they think it does!