Monday, August 30, 2004

Making the Grade

"School days, school days, dear old golden rule days."

I've always thought that song was a bit weird-- when has the education of young minds (in the past century, at least) EVER been about "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" ? High school, in my experience, was always a one-upmanship of getting the best grades for yourself, achieving the highest awards, regardless of how many others you trample in your path to greatness. Parents pushing kids to study more, study harder-- or, on the opposite spectrum, kids who didn't care, doing as little as they can to get by, not caring whether that hinders or helps their fellow classmates.

The world of academia seems to be the same way. Cutthroat. Successful publications. Talks. Presentations. C.V.'s and all that jazz. Of course, with my introduction to graduate school over the summer and now in the fall, I think sometimes, students DO put others first in their studies-- bonding with fellow classmates seems to counteract the individualistic success-only trend.

Take for instance, my cohort of 27 students in the TEEMS program. We were yoked together over the summer under tremendous truckloads of reading material, projects, papers, deadlines, silly Powerpoint Presentations, and a tormentuous TA. Now, in our second semester and looking ahead to student teaching in October, we've become a fairly unified group -- we offer textbooks to each other at better-than-bookstore deals, take trains together, carpool, share study tips and study sessions, and provide for those missing from class before they even ask. Admittedly, we are looking out for our own grades and making sure we get our work done first, but it seems much more of a communal society than regular graduate programs where students are only concerned about impressing each other with their wealth of knowledge, writing the most intellectually surprising theses, or pandering to professors. I think this is because we all want to be teachers first, not academics. In our own way, we're preparing to respect our students by respecting each other, just as we prepare to teach students by giving mock lessons to each other in class.

Maybe my introspection comes from re-reading Robinson Crusoe for my 18th Century Fiction class. He does quite a bit of philosophizing in between journal entries and I'm afraid it's rubbing off on me.

Or, perhaps this bit of educational reminiscing comes from our professor's request that we bring a high school yearbook to class on Wednesday. That's a scary thought. I was a complete [pick a Screech-like adjective-- nerd, geek, dweeb, etc.] in high school. Do I really want that fact to be known through photographic evidence? I suppose it's all part of being in a community-- trusting each other with pieces of our past. And since we have quite a few older graduate students, I'm sure we'll get to see some interesting hairstyles, at least. That should prove amusing!

No comments:

Post a Comment