As a student, I had the realization that the popular media grossly misrepresented the truth about summer school. I imagined that summer school involved the uniting of several different quirky personalities to form a microcosm of society in one classroom. Over the course of the summer, all of these different personalities learned from each other. They overcame their individual problems by acting as a newly created support group. Plus, summer school always ended with a massive party.
Of course, most of my dreams about summer school circulated around Mark Harmon running around in short-shorts. Actually, I didn’t really care about the microcosm stuff as much as I wanted to have a teacher like Mark Harmon who taught without a shirt. Mmmm, he was dreamy in that god-awful movie.
Alas, though, my adolescent fantasies about dreamy Mark Harmon never came to be. Instead, summer school as a student always fell flat. Through college, I took summer classes to get ahead (Why the hell did I want to do that?). They tended to be grueling and exhausting. My professors never looked like Mark Harmon. Indeed, I would have rather poured acid in my eyes than see them in short-shorts.
Now, as a prof, I am on the other side of the chalkboard – Well, actually, I don’t really use the chalkboard – and, come to think of it, everybody is on the same side of the chalkboard – so, that metaphor doesn’t really work. Whatever.
This summer I am offering my standard Chicano History class. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like teaching and love my students. It’s a fun class to teach (unlike intro to U.S. History).
Still, I find summer school just as grueling as I did as a student. First, you have to meet with your class everyday. EVERYDAY! This is not the life of an academic who is accustomed to teaching either MWF or TTH during the regular semester. Yeah, I know, I have to it sooooo tough. Pity the GayProf.
Second, both you and your students face some pretty rocky struggles to stay enthusiastic about any topic for the full 95 minutes of class-time. Frankly, I could resurrect César Chávez from the dead and invite him to talk to my summer class. After the first 50 minutes, students would be glazed eyed and folding paper airplanes.
Neither professors nor students realize what each other thinks about during summer school. Yet, each group drifts off into their own thoughts during class. Here, though, is a list of our hidden reflections:
Student: “I can’t believe we have to read 200 pages per week. Oh, man, GayProf is a dick.”
GayProf: “I assigned 200 pages, but will be happy if they read 100 pages per week. I am sure they understand that summer school is more intense.”
Student: “We have to write a final paper for this class? Oh, man, GayProf is a dick.”
GayProf: “Why did I assign a final paper? That means I am going to have read and grade them. Oh, man, I am an idiot.”
Student: “He never holds class outside. Oh, man, GayProf is a dick.”
GayProf: “Why, in the world, would anybody want to be outside in the Texas heat? Do they not see I am wearing a tie?”
Student: “Why won’t GayProf stop talking? This lecture is so boring. Oh, man, GayProf is a dick.”
GayProf: “When can I stop talking? This lecture is so boring. Oh, man, summer school sucks”
Student: "I wonder if I stared at GayProf's head long enough if it would explode. Oh, man, GayProf is such a dick."
GayProf: "I wonder if it is worth suffering through an episode of Navy: NCIS just to see Mark Harmon again.
Student: “Maybe I should have taken the History of Flags on Maps instead. Oh, man, GayProf is a dick.”
GayProf: “Maybe I should have taught the History of Sexuality instead.”
Student: “At least this class fulfills my diversity requirement and my history requirement all in one go. But, man, GayProf is a dick.”
GayProf: “I wonder what Anderson Cooper is doing right now.”
Student: “Ha – GayProf doesn’t realize I have never taken any notes since class began. He is such a dim-wit.”
GayProf: “Ha – That annoying student hasn’t taken any notes since this class began. He is going to fail this class so badly. He is such a dim-wit.”
Student: “Maybe I will ditch class tomorrow.”
GayProf: “Maybe I will show a film tomorrow.”
Student: “Gee, GayProf sure sweats a lot.”
GayProf: “Gee, these students seem to take many holidays form hygiene.”
Student: “We sure spend a lot of time talking about New Mexico.”
GayProf: “We don’t spend nearly enough time talking about New Mexico.”
Student: “Oh, man, I thought this history class would be an easy ‘A.’ GayProf is such a dick.”
GayProf: “Oh, man, I thought teaching this history class would be an easy paycheck. Man, being in debt suuuuuuuuucks.”
Student: "I wonder what other students are doing for the summer."
GayProf: "I wonder what other people do for a job."
Student: “I can’t wait to go out to the bars tonight.”
GayProf: “I can’t wait to go out to the bars tonight.”