Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Little Meaning for Breakfast.

"Expecting life to treat you well because you are a good person is like expecting an angry bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian."

-- Shari R. Barr

I sat down to write at 7:10 AM this morning. Now its 8:35 AM and there is no time. I don't know what the hell happened in the last few weeks but, whatever it is? It happened and now I do not seem to have a single minute.

More later, I hope.


It is now 7:10 PM, 12 hours exactly after I originally intended to add something meaningful and thought provoking to this, this collection of crap. I have since forgotten what that meaningful something was/is, so perhaps it isn't/wasn't meaningful anyway.

I handed back the first midterm in the clinical pharmacokinetics class I am co-teaching. I watched the 2nd year pharmacy students descend like vultures to fresh carrion upon the tests which I had taken over 12 hours to grade, comment on and coalate for them. And then one of them, and incidentally she is not a pharmacy student but a first-year student in my department (pharmaceutics), came up to me and was irate that she had gotten 97 and proceeded to argue her point. I told her why I graded it the way I did, to which she replied that there was a past midterm that had given the answer I gave PLUS her (and maybe 15 others in addition) answer to that type of question. Again I explained my point, but she rebutted. I sighed heavily and looked at her in the eyes and said "You got a 97. The most I could do would be to add one more point and that doesn't change anything. I am right, you weren't perfect, and THAT is what bothers you. Be happy with a 97 because in the program you are in, you probably won't see 97s anymore."

Yes it sounds brutal. But she pondered it for a moment and then agreed and went on her merry, A-student way, probably to go play with her abacus or re-write relativity for fuck's sake. It seemed like a brutal thing to say unless you have been in our department for a little while. The pharmacy students have a very tough curriculum, but what they go through is driver's ed compared to the pharmaceutics PhD training. More like PhD flogging. Its hard for me to feel sorry for them after the beating I have personally received, but I do respect them, and I am an easy grader. That being the case, I don't bend on the points I do take away. ESPECIALLY when its something we went over and over, and I even told them exactly that it would be tested. Weird.

I really enjoy being a teaching assistant, especially with all the actual teaching I get to do. I found myself pulling for them while I was grading their tests, and it was difficult not to take it a little personally when those topics I specifically spent so much time reviewing with them were some of the points on the test they missed. How it is.

It all goes to explain a little about how every teacher ends up the way they do. Albeit unique, they each have their own "take" on the students and their effort and what it has all meant. Sure, I am industry bound, and it will hardly be the same as standing in front of 100 future Doctors of Pharmacy and teaching them about why the clearance of a drug and the volume of a distribution are completely unrelated but combined create the elimination rate constant and therefore half-life of a drug... It feels good; especially when I realize that after my own beatings, failing so many cumulative exams, feeling like I was worthless for 6 straight months, after my slogging through the lectures and the homework and late night after late night, I can get someone else to listen to me and then say "Oh, yeah, now I see how that is..." and I feel like it wasn't so bad after all.

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