Just tonight, as I was leaving my office to head home for the night, I ran into one of the students taking the course I’ve been working with during this semester. He, like many students at the midpoint of the semester, was feeling the stress of getting everything done. Impending midterm exams, projects, and presentations made the extra work he perceived I had added to the course caused additional problems in his life. He’s only half right. While I’m certainly adding work for the students my presence has also taken away a certain type of work. This small conversation got me thinking about the different types of work students might be asked to do within a course.
When the instructor allowed me to invade his course for my research I was extremely grateful. He included me in the process of revising the syllabus to better suit the course with my presence. While we tried to reserve the primary structure of the course as much as possible, it was clear that some things would have to be replaced to account for the work that I would add to the course. As we went through the course objectives it became clear that, as this was a creative writing course (and I was adding creative writing assignments) it would be best to eliminate the reading/analysis of existing material and replace that with infrequent reading of the original creative material generated by the class. This has been successful so far. We’ll see what we think about it at the end of the semester.
At any rate, what interested me was that this student perceived that I had complicated his life in some fundamental way by my presence in the class. In a certain sense he’s right. His perspective is partially skewed by his proximity to midterm exams but he’s not wrong. On the other hand, the course became truer to itself. It became very clearly focused on creative writing. Writing more and reading less. It’s a trade off. Hopefully, if writing is of any interest at all, the extra writing will pay off.