“IT hadn’t gone very well”
A remark a young colleague made some years
ago walking-off, talking off a class that
“hadn’t gone very well.”
Dealing with it.
Gut grind, guilt grimace & resolve to do better
next time try harder & better batter butter-up,
damnit who doesn’t know that sinking feeling
rolling in by after noon: internal smog & cats
pause: a class gone bad, gone wild, gone, gone,
gone & reassembling in my image-I-nation to
re-wind, re-play, re-enact, re-present, re-cast,
re-frame, re-configure, re-format, re-formulate,
re-form so as to get it Right & Right what would
make a class go well!
What would make THIS class go well?
What would make this class go well
this time as opposed to last time,
1) what Constitutes A Class Going Well?
2) what would MAKE a Class Go Well
in general? &
3) what would make this be-here-now class
go well & be well & all is well
this particular point in time?
(not to collapse, conflate, and confuse the 3)
And is IT anything like what constitutes a
1) Game-Going-Well on the one hand and
2) what would MAKE a game go well on
another hand and 1) what constitutes & 2)
what makes a Team Going Well, a down-hill
run? a dinner party? argument?
a fight going well?
Going Well & all is well….
so that when I walked a way I would think: well,
that went well & could stay asleep that night &
not have to be modeling all that imaginative
representational mind-movie work..
The Elements of Going Well
“I lost the investment I had once had in making
sure students knew what I knew and what I thought,
and eventually passed into an existential territory
where all the moorings come loose. …I discovered
that school was not some benign and more or less
permanent feature of the way life is organized, but
the enemy of what I wanted to learn and teach.”
(Jane Tompkins: A Life in School)
Going Well could be framed as
What Does it Take to reduce
Upside Down Flamingo & Hedgehog Croquet
to my Hard Balls & Mallet agenda so that I can
somewhat manage the Going-Well Aims, Objectives,
& Outcomes that I want and not have to be walking-it-off,
talking-it-off, reformatting & reconfiguring the experience
so as to be making IT go right the next day
& Nail It!.
I have a colleague who confesses:
“I’m scared before every class.” I had a
colleague who would throw up in Gladfelter
Men’s Room before opening staff fall meeting:
summer-days bulimia: purging the glut of No Classes—
going well or not so well makes no never mind from May to
Mid-August. I had a colleague tell me I’d try more different stuff
if I weren’t worried about teacher & course evaluations—are you kidding?
They got to Go Well & all is well and all is well: I used to walk
around the building before class, twiddle a large paper clip
like Captain Queeg balls, take Zanex, put stuff up on the
board I could power point to, drawing attention off of
ME & my ex-officious auctoritas: look, this and this
and this: write it down; it’s important because
I say so and can ask it on the final exam
if I want to. Any questions?
If I could do all the talking and fill time-space
for an hour and 20 minutes, filter the whelm, shape the chaos,
dictate & determine the rules of my game, get thru this particular
class, get thru the week, get thru the semester, get thru a life-time
of surface authority and control, that’s what counts. That I Go Well.
See: here’s what I said we’d do, and we did it!
Any questions? No surprises.
My academic work program: a task force. Hard balls & mallets
croquet. Wicket wisdom: go thru one way, return the other.
Send the opposition rock & reeling across the lawn and
sock-it to the post back where I started from. No
Read more & more. Know more & more. Books-a-million,
no need to right or reinvent the wheel. Even now a colleague
sits out in the hall sorting through cast-off publications
of a departing faculty member: dumpster diving for
what might be some good stuff, good stuff.