Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lifelong learners, even where you might not expect them

There's some coolness with being an adjunct.  Para ejemplo, I don't have anything to grade right now.  If I was in a public school, I'd be swamped with 6 classes of daily work.  Tambien, I can fairly dictate my schedule, which means no babysitting necessary.  Tambien tambien, I don't have to hold hands with my students quite so tightly as jobs past.  It's okay, and I understand the need to do so.  But there's also a point when a student just has to do some work.  Dig me?

But I'm also here to state that as an adjunct-io, that's also one of the worst things.  I want to hold some hands, but once class is dismissed, those warm bodies in the seats just disappear.  There's not as much ability to communicate outside of the classroom doors, and that can be wildly frustrating when students go AWOL once November shows up on the top of the calendar. 

There are a couple of things that are incomprehensible to me.  First, why do students not drop a class if they have no intent to come?  I have students still on my rosters whom I haven't seen since week 1...it's week 14.  Second, why do students disappear 2/3 of the way through the semester?  Really.  Why? 

But for the 10 students who defy expectations, there are 10 who meet it in fine form.  These are the lifelong learners who are bound and determined to not only pass the class, but to pass it with much success.  (Granted, these are also the ones who sometimes quibble over minutia.)  And, these students are so much fun to work with. 

I didn't really have much familiarity with the phrase "lifelong learner" until I got to college, at which time I saw in action from dozens of committed, purposeful individuals the inspiring quality of what it means to believe in learning as a way of life.  Why else would my classes be widely populated with individuals who are at least 40 years old?  How very, very cool it is to hear their stories, to hear the variety of motivations that lead these adults into my classroom.  And keep in mind, my classes are ones that are gen-eds, and no one (l-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y) cares two rips about what I am teaching.  They come in because it is required of them, sure.  But, they come in because they care about the process of learning, about making the quality of their life better, about changing their life in whatever way they need to do so. 

That's enough to keep me going, to keep me hashing out the ins and outs of comma rules and topic sentences.  Sure, it gets a little old repeating "A thesis has to be debatable..." two hundred times (a class), but you know, so what?  It's nothing compared with the life adventures of many a student who endures me for three hours a week. 

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