30 April 2008

end of term

Each semester seems to pass more quickly than the one before.

Looking back over the semester, it seemed like an especially difficult one. Every semester I teach four sections that are part of our "Doubles" program, which all freshmen are required to take - course sections that are thematically linked and share the same students with course sections in another department. Thus, my two sections of "The Human Person" (introductory philosophical anthropology) are linked with introductory psychology and my two sections of "Moral Choice" (introductory ethics) is linked up with English composition.

When I was originally hired full-time, I was one of six people hired across several disciplines to teach these Doubles in the Core Curriculum. For the past five and half years, I've had the same Doubles partners, so we've built up a routine, a rapport, and a common understanding of what we do. My English composition partner, however, left at the end of last term to get married and move away. Thus I ended up with two new Doubles partners this term, one for each of the sections linked with English. They're great guys, but it was a new thing and required some additional effort to make work.

I also taught an overload this term: "Harry Potter and Philosophy: Wizarding and Wisdom." It was a fantastic course, as far as I'm concerned, and I loved teaching it. I hope to teach it again some day, though I'd prefer to teach it during the day, two or three times a week, rather than during a nearly 3 hour evening once a week. Since it was entirely new for me, it required a lot of prep and I sometimes found it difficult to keep up with the workload.

The term also had me busy coordinating this new program of student-faculty colloquia, which I tried hard to get off the ground, but which ended up pretty much fizzling. Back to the drawing board on that one. I think it's a lot to ask full-time faculty who are already very busy to take the time to participate in colloquia with students outside of allotted class time without all the logistics being taken care of by others: recruiting students, finding a location, ordering food, etc. If we're going to make it work, I suspect it'll have to be something where faculty just need to show up and be themselves without any further expectation.

In the midst of the general hubbub of a busy term, I also managed to come down with some kind of lingering sinus infection that started up in late January and persisted until about a month ago when it finally disappeared. While its severity ebbed and flowed, it added a layer of nuisance, headache, and fatigue to an already difficult term.

Suffice it to say, I'm glad it's almost all over. I need a bit of a rest, though real rest will have to wait for a little while.

My students' final papers were mostly due today, so I have several days of heavy grading ahead of me. Beyond that, summer plans are beginning to shape up.

I'll be teaching the summer hybrid course in Business Ethics - three class meetings with the rest of the class conducted online. I've never used the new BlackBoard system we now have, so it will require some learning on my part. The class begins on May 10, so I really don't have too much time to pull it together once I get grades turned in. Fortunately, I have taught it before, so I'm not starting from scratch - though I last taught it two summers ago.

My other summer project is to write a chapter for a forthcoming book on Harry Potter and philosophy. I submitted a proposal concerning Harry Potter and issues in epistemology. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was accepted. The due date for the draft is August 15.

Well, enough procrastinating. Back to grading!