Monday, October 16, 2006

For me, the worst feeling in the world is frustration. This feeling can overtake me anywhere. Sometimes it creeps up during understandable situations, such as when I cannot get my class to understand some concept I consider ridiculously simple. However, I can also get frustrated during the simplest situations, such as when I can’t thread a needle or pull the backing off a label or bumper sticker. After I have spent a few minutes being unable to divide the sticker from its backing, I’ll get a certain feeling in my chest. This feeling causes me to throw the sticker on the ground, probably cuss, and even physically attack other inanimate objects, such as nearby chairs and tables. The feeling combines the helplessness of an unexpected breakup with the irritation of an itch that cannot be satisfied, regardless of how much scratching.

I bring up this feeling because it is exactly how I feel when I sit in my graduate school classes at Ole Miss. I have not been this frustrated in a classroom since I was in 6th grade, when my Social Studies teacher would spend the entire class having students take turns reading from the textbook. It takes my professors five hours to give information that I could grasp and understand in thirty minutes. With one notable exception, every academic leader I have had at Ole Miss has been a major disappointment. They provide no challenges, intellectual or otherwise. I have gotten into the habit of either “phoning-in” or simply ignoring homework assignments because I view them as a heinous waste of my precious time. The issue about homework is not the fact that I would rather be doing something that I find entertaining – hanging out with friends, reading a novel, or watching a movie – it is the fact that I could be doing something productive. I could be planning lessons. Or grading essays. Or calling parents. Or redecorating my room. Or creating tests. Or figuring out how to help my students who are in danger of failing or dropping out of school.

It is not that I have a problem spending time doing work for graduate school; I have never, and will never, shy away from any academic challenge. That said, I want my work to be worthwhile. There is no point in spending time on homework which is, basically, busy work. I wish that my professors would take the advice they so eagerly give to their students: make sure the class is involved, make sure you aren’t just “talking at” your class,

When I made the decision to join the Teacher Corps, I thought the graduate school courses would be a highlight of the program, a welcome respite from the daily grind of teaching. The opposite has become true. I fear the weekends we have to travel to Ole Miss to take classes. I can’t stand every moment we spend in the Education Building. My head aches, my thoughts wander, and my chest is filled with that awful feeling of frustration.

I do not know if this lack of academic rigor is more a reflection of the University of Mississippi, the Mississippi Teacher Corps, or education graduate schools in general. Regardless of which institution is at fault, I recently told my father that I regard the entire process as a farce. I truly hope that this is a symptom of the first semester, and not a disease that ravages the entire program.

Next semester we will be taking a class with a gentleman who, in my limited contact with him, has appeared to be intelligent, intellectual, thoughtful, caring, and dedicated. This cocktail of attributes makes him an extremely rare ace in the School of Education’s deck; I only hope the rest of the professors I encounter at this school are not jokers.


Blogger Ben Guest said...

Who is the exception?

8:49 AM  
Blogger Adam Ewing said...

Ms. Monroe, but of course i have yet to have Dr. Mullins.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Peetie Wheatstraw said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Peetie Wheatstraw said...

I wonder if this isn't somewhat intentional, so as not to overwhelm the already impossibly overwhelmed. Also, I wonder if the classes do not shy away from theoretical discussions in an effort to provide us with the more concrete, potentially classroom-usable information. Not that I necessarily believe this, but am simply playing Devil's Advocate.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Mr Khaki Pants said...

Ole Miss has a two page undergraduate application. Two pages. That's it. I'm guessing Brown's is nearly thirty.

1:45 AM  

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