Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Being a novice...

... or now I can definitely justify this trip as part of my sabbatical.

I had an epiphany today about my experience at Elbow Chocolates and in particular with molding.  To set the stage, I molded again today --- I did the full set of fleur de sel molds (in my first molding experience I did less than half the total number of molds we needed to do) and for more than half I did everything by myself with no supervision (Nikki, of course, checked my work when I was done).  Then I had to clean up (which took a sadly long time). 

In planning this experience, I've been reluctant to tell people at Colorado College, (or other mathematical types), since it was not clear to me this was really an "acceptable" sabbatical trip.  I'm not doing anything related to my job.  Or so I thought.  When I am teaching, nearly every day, I am engaged with people whose experience in my course is just what I experienced today:  you have some general idea, someone is helping you who sincerely wants you to be successful, but is also an authority figure and expert, and you know everyone is depending on you.  Finally, you are hoping to accomplish what you need to in time to do something else that day.  In my case today, the authority figure is Nikki, and everyone is the rest of the production team who needs those molds so they can fill them.  Also, the more molding I get done, the faster we can turn over the molds and the less molding they have to do and the sooner we move on to the next task.  Finally, I was planning to go to the Boulevard Brewery tour today at 3, but I got done cleaning after 3:30.  So no tour for me.

For my students, the authority figure is me, the everyone who depends on them varies in this scenario --- it could be friends who are waiting on them, parents, their own career aspirations, or a sense that others may judge them, among many other possibilities.  And, of course, they want to be outside having fun in Colorado, or may have jobs, and so the sooner they get their work done for my course, the sooner they can get on with other activities.

Of course, I know all this intellectually.  The justification for this trip in terms of my sabbatical, is that it is really healthy for me and, as such, great for my students for me to be actively experiencing something that I really care about as the novice.  This job makes me feel like they feel in my class.

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