Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Understanding Society

As I have been researching various topics for the Intro Sociology course I teach at CWI I came across an intriguing collection of resources at the website Understanding Society by Daniel Little at University of Michigan. This is a very robust website with all sorts of tools (blogs, podcasts, YouTube interviews, Twitter feeds, etc)for examining society and how social scientists approach their world.

After spending more time than I care to admit noodling around on the various pages I was reminded all over again what drew me to the science of sociology in the first place. I am utterly fascinated by examining the twin forces of society: what creates stability and what creates social change.

As I went through my first day of classes on Monday I found myself flowing in the zone of guiding intro students to the idea that SOCIAL FORCES have more to do with the choices we make than individual preference. That of course does not mean we are robots being manipulated by our society. Yet the whole idea that individuals are not uniquely in charge of their own destiny is sometime quite difficult for American students to fathom. I love the challenge of helping them both comprehend and confront that.

It does no good to be overwhelmed or angry at the idea that social institutions and the power elite with their own agendas are limiting my options. Instead, I encourage students to PUSH those limits, which can only be done by first understanding them.

I'm excited for the new semester. The first four weeks are generally euphoric for me as I begin each term full of hope and excitement. Of course, by week 7 I will be overwhelmed with grading and discouraged by lackluster students who don't even bother to show up regularly. Still, every term I find my core group of people who get excited about what they are learning. We enter that magical, sacred dance of teaching and learning, where we take turns showing each other new ideas, different perspectives and ways of defining our world - savoring the process of making meaning and finding new knowledge. Honestly, this is what I was born to do, and it is such an absolute privilege I am still astonished there are schools that actually pay me to "perform" tasks that are so hardwired to my DNA that it's like telling a fish to swim.

I've taught adjunct courses in Michigan, Washington, Oregon and now Idaho. I love this more than anything else I've ever done. Would I do it full time if I had the chance? Absolutely - even though the very idea of that gives me some trepidation.

Would doing it day in and day out with a 5 or 6 course load burn me out on the one thing that absolutely fuels my passion? I don't have the answer to that. But since right now it's not an option, I don't have to worry about that. For now I will continue to teach in tandem with my full time job, putting my heart and soul into my classes. Down the road, if a full time position ever does open, that is a risk I would most definitely take.

No comments:

Enrich Your Word Power!

Word of the Day
Quote of the Day

This Day in History