Having a substantial to-do list is probably one of the best antidotes to depression, at least for me. Most people I know get depressed when they see their never ending pile of work loom on the horizon. Then again, I’m often not like most people, for better or worse.
I finished one conference paper this weekend and will finish the second some time in the next couple of days. I also need to get cracking on the PowerPoints for these presentations so that they’ll be nice and polished by May 1. There are, of course, notes to post on my course website for Tuesday’s class. (More on that later.) I’ve also been given the task of completely revamping the website for the research center that pays half of my stipend. It just so happens that this center focuses on Pastry-making (my exact sub-specialty, if we want to continue on the culinary psychology theme). To put it bluntly, the website looks awful and is the opposite of user-friendly, and I want it to be the best it can possibly be. All weekend I’ve been working on the design (as a WordPress blog, strangely enough) to show to my advisor next week as a draft before I load it on the server as a site. I hope that it exceeds (or at least meets) his expectations.
So back to teaching. My students had another instructor the first half of the course (it’s a Frankenstein course that’s supposed to nail two curriculum requirements in one class…yes, it sucks), and she wasn’t quite as hard-nosed about things as I am. Call me crazy, but I kind of like it when my students read the chapters and come to class regularly. To illustrate, the discussion in last Tuesday’s class looked like this:
Me: So, what are some techniques that chefs can use to encourage more even cooking?
Class: *blink* (Slack-jawed, blank stares.)
Me: (Stares back at them.)
Class: (Continues to stare, begins to drool)
Me: No idea? Even though it’s in the book, and if you think about what I said earlier, the answers should be very obvious. How about stirring? Adjusting the heat? No idea. Who actually read even part of the chapter for today’s class?
Class: (stays completely still)
I was pissed. I laid into them for a good two minutes about how I wasn’t going to waste my time or theirs spoon-feeding them information, and that this class was designed to elaborate and expand above what’s in the book. I threatened quizzes. Invoked shame (“I’m beyond that kind of garbage, and I thought you guys were, too!”) and disappointment. I said that if they wanted to be talked at for 150 minutes a week, they needed to be somewhere else.
After I was done, I’m sure it was sufficiently clear that I was done tolerating their shit. My tirade seemed to work, because a few people seemed to have read before Thursday’s class, although the pop quiz really separated the wheat from the chaff. It kills me that these students are in the last half of their college education and won’t so much as crack a book in a class that is absolutely essential to their knowledge as future chefs. These guys will be in the kitchen in the not-so-distant future, and some of these jokers still don’t take any of it seriously. I sure as hell don’t want them cooking for me!