Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Return of the Chemistry Cramp

The other night I woke from sleeping on the couch to clutch madly at my left calf muscle. It was cramping something fierce. The first time I'd experienced this phenomenon was my freshman year of college, while taking general chem. I hated that class with a passion. The only thing I learned was to never, ever take a lab at 8 o'clock in the morning. Throughout that semester I would wake screaming and clutching at my left calf. Fortunately my roommate was a heavy sleeper, just about her only redeeming characteristic.

Several years later, at a different college, in a different state, I took a second semester of general chem, and the cramp returned in the same spot. And again when I took organic chem.

Well, I'm not taking chemistry right now, thank god. That would probably push me over the edge. But I think the return of the cramp may be related to the second topic I'd like to address in this post. I'd thought to include it in the title, but that became cumbersome. I'm referring to my emerging "theory" of teacher prep programs. (I put it in quotes because it's not evolution or gravity, after all. But it is based on observations.)

Teacher prep programs suck. They suck big time. We're less than two months into our program and we're already horribly disillusioned and just sick of it all. We're not being taught anything that appears to relate to life or the real world. We do group project after group project with the same few people until we can't stand the sight of one another. Most of the assignments feel like busy work.

So here's my theory: Teacher prep programs are designed to suck so that they separate out the few people that can put up with this shit because chances are they will be able to put up with the shit that they have to deal with as teachers.

Maybe I was just crazy thinking I would actually learn something.


Coffeypot said...

The Marines try to weed out the weakest, least prepared physically and mentally during boot camp. Maybe this is the same thing. Only the toughest survive.

Anonymous said...

In my experience, you are absolutely correct – graduate education programs are 90% BS and busy work. The good news is that all the readings, projects and papers are pretty much the same. Once you get through the first semester, you’ll find that the work you did in the first can serve as a template, you’ll just have to tweak it a bit to fit the new, only slightly different assignments. So it does get easier. Much easier.

I found the most valuable classes came later, when you get past all of the stupid theory and development and history crap, and actually write and present lesson plans, unit plans and curriculum. You will learn the most, obviously, when student teaching.

I’m not sure how it is in your school, but one nice thing about the grad ed school I went to was that most of the instructors were actual working school teachers who were moon-lighting as college instructors for extra cash, prestige, and/or experience. They were able to bring considerable real-world, practical experience into the classroom. Very few were actual full-time university professors, whose classes were generally the least helpful, as their isolated, ivory tower perspective was heavy in heady pseudo-intellectual theory, but light in practical usefulness.

Just hang in there, don’t expect to have mind-blowing educational experiences. You’re only there to get your ticket punched and papers in order so you can get a job, which, considering your field, won’t be a problem.

Unknown said...

Wow! Sodaboy! :)

Anyway, sorry for all the crappy stuff now. And I hear you on the leg cramps. I get them too. Not fun! Hope they go away soon.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

WOW! Too bad on both counts, sorry it's such a drag! :-(

College certainly can be a real drag and I've heard that the theory portion of teacher prep is 100% bullcrap.

Biker Buddy gets leg cramps fairly frequently and his are pretty bad.

I get one occasionally and i hate them. I got a NECK cramp the other morning (in bed) that was very painful, my first of those that I can recall.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Nice comment, sodaboy!

a/k/a Nadine said...

SodaBoy, thank you so much for your kind comment. I was so struck by what you said that I shared it with one of my classmates who was also quite appreciative. He said to tell you that you're great or cool, or something along those lines.

One of my 3 professors this semester does not have a degree in education nor has he ever taught outside of college. What's wrong with this picture? And the other two haven't been in a school in 10-20 years.