June 6th, 2011


Because I'm writing.

I was asked yesterday how well I was surviving tutoring. That's a somewhat loaded question - it tends to waver wildly between 'awesome, thanks for asking' and 'oh hell don't even MENTION it'. Overall, though, it falls on the side of the former.

It's my experience that learning peoples' names is the most difficult part of the job. It's incredibly easy to learn the names of those that actually contribute, because you find yourself having conversations with them and thus you actually wind up learning names by attrition. However, that group that contributes is about a third at most, and the rest sort of end up in a pile where you know they're in one of your tutorials, you just can't remember which one and who they are. I'm sure I'd remember them if they firebombed my house, but that's not really something I'd recommend if you're one of my students.

Marking is torture. Running three tutorials in a row, week in, week out, is torture. Occasionally, I have had to fight the urge to STAY IN BED because I have work to do.

However, I have never had a tutorial where I have not enjoyed myself. I've had tutorials where I've been woefully unprepared ('just keep talking, I'll staple your marks to your assignments on the floor at the front of the room') but every now and then one of my students will say something that makes me think that they'll make it through this discipline. Unfortunately, two of those students, one who got overwhelmingly opinionated on the subject of masculinity as construct, and another who held the entire class as she discussed the lack of queer theory in the course, probably won't pass because they haven't handed stuff in.

I was reminded recently that we grade really, really generously in New Zealand. Here, if you get 50%, you've passed. At 85%, you get an A+. I know that in most universities in the States, anything below a 65% is probably going to get you failed. I sometimes wonder whether or not we're setting these guys up for a shock when they're released into their chosen profession up against people whose education might be 15% better.

Above all, and this is rather selfish, I got to talk about movies every week with people that knew different things than I did. I took people back to my favourite film from 1924, discussed the importance of the rotating hallway sequence in Inception, and how to play Moviewang. We discussed the panopticon, I explained what the sublime is when watching Mercury pass by the sun, and I played the opening of an episode of Scrubs for contrast.

I like my job. After talking with my flatmate about personality tests, I took a trait test on the BBC website. Apparently, I have significantly high job satisfaction, despite having none of the personal traits that suggest I should.