I've finished teaching for the day, finished seeing students in office hours, and am now waiting for a meeting that's going to be long and complicated.
Back at the beginning of the semester, I blogged about the mentor I had for our special programs special day, who told my brand new students that they shouldn't take classes like history but only classes that would help them get a job. In addition to blogging about the situation, alas, I also made noises in the break room and elsewhere about it. And I made noises in front of the chair. The chair's already plenty frustrated by the way the program's handled, and he made noises about my noises to the Dean, yes, the Dean who seems to sincerely believe in education and stuff.
I was headed to a meeting earlier in the week, which just so happened to be in the administrative building, the building where deans and the like hang out, and naturally, I ran into the Dean. He reminded me of the incident, and talked about talking to my chair about it, and then asked me to write him a note explaining what had happened. The idea is that we need specifics to take to the program folks to say, the program's not doing what we want it to do, and we need to change it, and I'm exhibit #17A or something. Lucky me.
I've spent the past hour drafting the letter. Okay, I have stakes in this. No, I'm not going to lose my job, even if the Dean wanted to hang me out to dry (I don't think he does), because yay tenure. BUT, it's important to me that we change the program, yet the program now is at least partly the special pet of someone higher up, it seems. And I don't have a good sense of things with that someone higher up (because I don't hang with that crowd, the all straight white male crowd). AND, I don't really know where I stand with the Dean. Our interactions have been uneven.
So I'm drafting and revising because it's important to write the letter well, and because I want to impress on the Dean that yes, I actually do have a brain and am a thoughtful, valuable faculty member, even though I don't wear tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbows and stuff.
In other news, today my body class was talking about Iris Young and Toril Moi, about the idea of the "lived body" as opposed to the abstract, idealized biologic body. One of the students came up with a great, real example: during her high school biology class, her fetal pig had been a hermaphrodite! It hadn't looked like the pictures in the book they were supposed to look like! The pictures were abstractions, while the real body was a sort of lived body, even if only fetally. It rocked!
Then, to add to my excitement, one of the biology majors said that she'd never thought about these issues, but that they made sense of her experience.
It's like education in action!
(And I have to thank TBTAM for suggesting Eugenides' Middlesex as a text for the class, since that's the center we're reading theory and stuff around! Thanks again, TBTAM! The students are enjoying the novel while being challenged by it!)