Monday, January 20, 2014

Recipe for an Existential Crisis, vol. 1

I've had several occasions these past few weeks in which I questioned some major life decisions I've made. The sinking feeling that comes from suspecting that you've squandered precious years of your life only to end up in your current situation is really a special blend of dread, despair, worthlessness and self pity that is not easy to achieve. In order to share this remarkable feeling, I'll have a series of recipes you can try to recreate that fever pitch of existential angst. Without further ado, here is the first installment in Recipes for an Existential Crisis.

Ingredients: A stack of papers, desk, a cold room, sad country music, one or two indifferent students.
Prep time: 1.5 years.
Serve with: Career uncertainty.

1) Become a teacher.
 I can't give advice on how to do this because I'm not sure how it happened to me.

2) Teach a subject as clearly as you possibly can and give a mid-year exam that half of your class will bomb.
This is easier than it sounds. Heck, I can do it.

3) Grade them while sitting alone in a relatively cold room and listening to Townes van Zandt (or any other country blues songwriter) sing the blues.
If you can add in some unrelated emotional turmoil as a garnish to this and choose a song that matches the feeling well, your Existential Crisis will have a personalized, unique touch that others may find hard to immitate!

4) Question what the point of teaching the material if your students weren't going to pay attention, anyway was. 
If you are having trouble finding appropriate questions, try starting with "What's the point, I'm not telling them anything that's not in the textbook anyway," or "Would it have made a difference if I had simply read 50 Shades of Gray out loud instead of lecturing?" and go from there.

5) Let that uncertainty spiral into an Existential Crisis! Enjoy!*

*step six is to blog about it

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