Friday, January 2, 2009

The penultimate semester

It feels like this is my first night off since the start of Fall semester! Since turning in my final papers, I finished all of my student grades and then faced the barrage of familial and holiday obligations. My dear brother came to stay with us for a few days, with his wife and their one year-old daughter. As much as I love them, I think they stayed a day too long, and we all caught the little one's cold. Tonight I'm recovering--feeling much better, I might add, after two days down--and trying to ignore the little voice telling me to work on my syllabus for next semester's comp 2 course. I'll get there. First, a small recap of this last semester...

I had a lot of expectations, and not all of them were met. While my final papers left much to be desired, I knew where my weak points were before they were pointed out to me, and had some strengths brought to my attention that I had been unaware of. Looking back, it seems that I stepped into a different type of paper writing experience--it was lower quality but a different felt rather like the training wheels came off and so, while the ride was rocky I came out of it feeling more empowered, with a vision, albeit a blurry one, of where I needed to go.

Teaching was a double challenge--as in, I taught two courses in addition to my own. Sometimes I feared that this caused my students to get the short end of the stick; on the other hand, teaching while I was a bit unhinged from stress might have been an improvement. Four of my first semester students to enroll in my class this coming semester (out of 20 students, that's a decent percentage!), and two of my comp 2 students have asked me to continue working with them on their final papers next semester. I was hoping that my students would emerge, unscathed, and it appears that some of them were even slightly inspired!

My understanding of graduate school has changed with the completion of each semester. The trend is that as I gain more knowledge, the more of a neophyte I become. Nearing completion of my Master's degree, I don't feel any smarter, despite having read thousands of pages of literature and its accompanying criticism; despite having passed a test that says I'm an officially proficient grad student. I have learned a great deal about literature (not to mention about the capacity of myself, and my marriage)and yet I certainly don't feel that I'm a "Master" of any sort. I feel that there's a lot more of this ahead of me. Despite misgivings, and a disarming fear that I will not be able to find a job in my chosen profession, I am unable to find peace in any other option.

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