Tuesday, October 04, 2005


September was bulging with days wherein I worked 15 hours, and when I had a moment to catch my breath often spent it sleeping. Have collected most of my data, but think I have about 30 more participants to find somewhere. Hopefully this will be acceptable as far as the situation for which I needed to have my data collected by September.

A lot of my time goes towards class prep. I suspect some people imagine that college instructors are overpaid* as they only "work" a few hours a week, i.e. when the class is actually in session. This is logically akin to saying that a homemaker doesn't "work". In some ways the class prep is easier than being a student, but mainly in the sense that I will not be given a test on it in the near future, and can decide what the material will consist of. In all other ways, it's about five times as much work as (I seem to remember) being the student in the class was. Presumably, teaching the same class twice makes it easier, because then you already have the class and the lectures assembled.

I am trying to keep my students awake for the research methods section of Personality, but some parts of the text are boring and overly redundant even for me. I have therefore asked them to come up with topics in Personality that they want to know about, and we have begun having informal discussions about them in the second half of class. I think I will continue that.

The Women's Psych class is different. And kind of scary. I have started out by discussing external factors in women's lives, i.e. society's influence on women. I first shocked many of them by putting up an overhead copied from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) website that shows homicide being among the top killers of women in several age groups (teens through forties, basically, at which point disease begins killing us faster than humans.) Also showed them that a top killer of pregnant women is--you guessed it--homicide. Asked what they thought the top workplace killers of women might be? Yep, homicide's right in there. Now it's unfortunate, but usually the killers are male (ex-) partners. Note that this is not interpretation, or a twist of stats, but simply collected data.

Okay. So. I asked them in an assignment to speculate (speculate!) how this circumstance might affect women's mental health. Pretty simple, right? I was not surprised that many of the students said "likely to increase depression, anxiety, etc.". In fact I speculate that, myself. I was a little surprised that a few of them said essentially "It doesn't affect them because they don't know about it."

The annoying thing about this particular subset of answers is that they are from the few male students in the class. I know they didn't all get together and decide on this answer, but individually, spontaneously decided it. It's amazing. (There is also further activity along this line that feels scary and threatening, but I don't want to go deeper into it online.) It's like they think I'm saying this stuff to be mean to them personally. For Pete's sake, I'm not making it up! I got my material from the Justice Department, and the CDC! And it clearly has an effect on women, which is what the class is about.

On the other hand, I have lots of students coming up at the break or after class to tell me in amazement or sorrow that I have been talking about their own lives, so my material must not be too off course. (These students have so far been entirely women.)

Now, off to write that Personality lecture for today...

*Except, of course, graduate students who double as instructors.

No comments: