the beginning of a new academic year

Teaching begins tomorrow, the first day of the new academic year. That isn’t entirely accurate; students have been arriving on campus for a week or more, and this week just past was fresher’s week, induction, orientation and lots of students trying to pair square images on a map with the brick and concrete and wood buildings around them.

I’ve been teaching this particular module for several years now, and I’m always amazed at the strange dance between its continuity, in terms of the material covered and its basic structure, and the difference between years in terms of the personality of the students, as a group beyond as individuals. I meet them tomorrow and I’m looking forward to getting to know them.

Beyond this, there are other changes. Administrative responsibilities, committees and working groups and the other connective tissue of university life, pick up again. Seminars restart in earnest, each of them bringing new ideas, new faces, new math, and what could be better than learning new math.

This all ties a bit into my previous reflections. We of necessity bring with us the shadows and echoes of everything we’ve experienced, and it’s hard not to let all of that that’s past color the present and near future too much.

I find this particularly important when teaching, whether teaching math or teaching aikido. This is a point that I’ve worked through a lot and I’ll continue to work through, but beginners are encountering all of these things for the first time, and I can’t let the fact that I’ve been doing them for years, teaching these things for years, get too much in the way of me trying to bring the beginners along.

And so, the work continues.

~ by Jim Anderson on 2 October 2022.

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