Khalid Hussain (khalid_hussain) wrote,
Khalid Hussain


I was talking to my brother last week. He was on leave this past quarter and went to a function on campus when the quarter was over. He remarked on how pale, exhausted, and angry some of his colleagues appeared to be. In describing their relationships to their students, he used words like "draconian policies" and "punitive quizzes." Given the astrological archetypes I've been thinking of lately, I noted how Saturnian these descriptors seemed to be. My brother remarked that some colleagues with formerly high ideals have become disgusted and discouraged, and how some with formerly affable relationships with their students have been turning increasingly adversarial.

Perhaps because of where I am right now, I don't see myself "growing" in an adversarial direction. Some of the feedback I got recently indicated to me that structure and discipline, and even aggression, might be coming across more vividly than they need to under the circumstances. That is to say, I can trust myself that I have plenty of structure and discipline to support what I'm doing. It might be time to consider what I can do--if anything--to have a better time in the moment. Otherwise, I might as well plan on being perpetually tense and exhausted.

On the other hand, the past couple of weeks have brought into focus the fact that there are individuals who are achieving remarkable things and that, because of the contact I have with them in the classroom, I know who these people are and I can trace the development of their work. One former student was at the new music festival I went to this weekend. I didn't find out until he posted photos on FB, but because he did we communicated a bit. He reminded me of how, when he was in my class, the students got me a CD of music from a much earlier year of this same festival. I still have it, and gave it a listen again last night. One of my students from the next school I taught at just released a CD of his music. I listened to it in full on Bandcamp, and it was really nice.

I wish I could say that I was as interested in what former students from my current school are doing. Many of them are schoolteachers or church musicians: it's boring. Having taught at a great university, at a lesser university, and now at a university in the middle, I can say that the students at both the great and the lesser university were actually more vivid and more interesting as individuals. That's probably why I remember them, and why I stay in touch with some of them.

Most of the students where I am now seem to be quasi-religiously devoted to their own mediocrity. They are harsh against anyone who tries to move them out of their comfort zone. It's kindergarten with cellphones, and lots of capitalist-consumerist attitude.

So my challenge is how to find a sense of value where my values are devalued. My partner is trying to solve this problem by returning to school and hoping to change careers at midlife. It seems that I have to find ways to work within my situation and make it more livable.

Om Kreem Kalyai Namaha,


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