Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Reviews Are In

Postcard by the amazing Stella Mars

Like I promised, I went through my student evaluations last night. I always dread it and then feel good afterwards, like a dental cleaning or going to the gym.

Overall they were actually really good this time around. I always get people who think the subject matter is worthless to begin with, and I get a lot of "too much reading." It's college. You read. Sorry, pal, those are the breaks.

I usually get at least a couple reviews that break my heart and tell me the things I secretly think about myself all the time, but I try to put those into perspective. It is really hard to do that. I hope it makes me a better teacher for it, but I also hope that those who put down the more petty comments get some major karmic retribution from on high. Once someone wrote that I looked like Velma from Scooby Doo. I totally LOVE Velma (especially "Oh, I've lost my glasses!"), so it wasn't a dig from my perspective, but it was from hers/his, which sucks. Then I get those who find my political perspective to be lacking, such as the one student who argued that she/he didn't sign up for a course on "lesbian feminism." Which, interestingly enough made me look back and wonder what "lesbians" we discussed. When I noticed I didn't really talk about lesbians at all, I added a whole GLBT section to my syllabus. So thanks, reactionary student! I think he saw my short hair and figured I wasn't an ordinary feminist, but a "lesbian feminist." Like some kind of radiated verson that has super powers. Orange County shouldn't surprise me, but it does sometimes!

I get a lot of great comments that keep me going. I'm especially thankful of the more specific ones that help me figure out what I'm doing right so I can replicate it in another area of the course. Students seem to dig my topic choices and the quality of my examples and clips, which is the stuff I like to change up most frequently to be current. I also got a few comments on how interesting the historical background material was (whoa!) and that they liked my lecture style (which I kind of like to think of as "intellectual spazzmatic" and thus very problematic or in need of fixing).

This time I got one really amazing evaluation by an advertising student who, after enjoying my unit on advertisements and culture, decided to change majors because she or he didn't want to be part of it anymore after thinking about its function in the world. I don't hate advertising, but the goal of much of it is to exploit fears and anxieties, and I don't know that I could do something like that after realizing its function either. It always amazes me that the advertisers of the present and future have probably taken a class much like mine in college and are thus armed with evil beyond epic proportions.

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