...to have your working life reflect the values of your home life and to have a life that feels continuous rather than compartmentalized.
My summer class is over. This class made a significant imprint on me. I've never taught a condensed (6 weeks instead of 15 weeks) course like this, and while I always enjoyed them as a student, I was unsure how I would feel about them as a teacher. It turns out, I feel even better about them now.
One factor that sets summer classes apart from other classes in general is the motivation coming from the students. First of all, they have motivation. Most people in a summer class are either catching up or getting ahead. Either way, they have a clear reason for being there, and that changes everything.
In regards to what I started off saying about compartmentalizing, this is something that came up during class. We talked about farmers, their connection to physical places, and the cyclical nature of the agrarian lifestyle. The writer-farmers that contributed to our textbook talked about the way that everything in their lives is challenging and fulfilling. They don't make a clear distinction between "work" and "home." It's all the same thing. I thought, "Wouldn't that be nice?" "Work" wouldn't have to be a place where you struggle to find satisfaction; it would just be a place where you continue being you. Likewise, of course, "home" would come with its own obstacles and efforts.
My life, of course, isn't what I would consider an ideal cycle like this, but this summer I was able to take something I want to learn more about and have an enthusiasm for into the workplace. For an entire semester, my (personal) life philosophy of simplification combined with my (professional) philosophy of empowering my students. I never felt like my values of one arena conflicted with the values of another. It was peaceful.
Many students in this class told me they enjoyed the class. Now, I've heard this before, but honestly, it always felt like they were saying, "We liked you." And that is nice. It is. But this semester does seem different in that I believe they actually enjoyed the class--the subjects we explored, the dynamics of the discussions, the occasional documentary, etc. The theme was community, and while we could argue over whether or not we are currently facing unique challenges with interacting with one another (or if it's been happening over time), the fact remains that students at a community college are or should be trying to figure out what roles they want to play in their communities. I don't think we ever came to any conclusions about anything, but we did all leave with something to think about and possibly even to do.
After just 6 weeks, I find that I'm truly sad to say goodbye to my class, but I am also thankful to have experienced it.