Monday, October 06, 2008

Down and Up Again

In my junior level course today, my students, all English majors, couldn't give even a basic, working definition of "ideology," until one brave person made a stab and got close to the issue. And they couldn't make sense of the word "structure."

So much for English departments as hotbeds of postmodern theory and Marxism. It's frustrating because they should have a handle on basic theoretical terms as a starting point for discussion in upper-level courses, and they should have heard these terms in at least two pre-requisite courses before. That is, they should have heard these terms repeated and used in more than one course, so they should really have the idea.

And then in my senior level class, they had a lovely discussion, somehow making connections with each other, responding to each other, listening, and making good points about the play.

And so in one day, I've moved from despair to delight.

The load from the weekend thing has lifted, and I only have two big stacks of grading!


  1. We talked about ideology in class today too; though, since I teach a 100-level class I didn't expect them to come up with a definition.

    However, when I asked them to define "democracy" they didn't know how that differed from a republic. Oy.

  2. but, see? you ARE making a difference. understanding some of the basic concepts can be life-changing for students, boosting them into whole new spheres of inquiry and discussion.

    even if they should have known some basic concepts before. sheesh. you'd expect a red-hot or 2, at least, to be all over the basics.