Meeting the Students

Classes have begun. These students are demanding, and I feel wrung out after a class. I have two undergraduate courses and two graduate courses (this is a heavy load, but a teacher had to cancel and these courses are required for credit in the degree programs at the students’ home universities.) My style seems to fit these students – one of my undergrad classes has ballooned from 22 to 30, and a Grad class from 7 to 10, with other students asking if they can monitor. It’s a fair trade – they inspire me and I inspire them. The most interesting part of this semester is that, along with 20 class sessions, we will have five week-long port visits (Shanghai, Chennai, CapeTown, Barcelona, Istanbul) and I am assigning graded tasks to all my students in every port. (When will I find time to grade them?) But this means that any theory that gets presented can immediately be tested against real-world observations. And with these students, I expected to have everything I say tested to the limits.

As part of orientation, we got split into groups and asked to present something which spoke to our fears and hopes for the voyage, so for our group I wrote a short one-act play on the difference between a collegial atmosphere and a competitive one. It was well received, and I have now been asked to do more, write more, help with the theater group (I said yes) The reward for good work is more work. Actually, because I have the heaviest teaching load, I have been officially excused from other activities – but who wants to do nothing but teach on board and never vary a schedule?

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