Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Day of Classes

While classes started at McGill last week, today was my first day of teaching due to APSA and Labor Day.  I am teaching two courses--an upper level class on the International Relations of Ethnic Conflict and the big Introduction to International Relations class.  The big course is at 4:30, which is much later than I have taught it in the past.  Worse, the class before mine is the big Intro to Comparative Politics class, so many of the students will be sitting in their second monster lecture class in a row.  The good news?  IR is inherently more interesting.  Sorry but them's the facts.  Plus I have much more experience than the other guy in the art of teaching huge classes plus I am willing to stunt-ucate. 

The challenge is to bring enough energy at the end of the day, while the students are dragging (and so am I).  The key I have found before and continues to work: to play some energetic music before the class starts.  Turning it off signals the start of class as well.  Today, I played "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel to suggest that the dynamics of today did not just spring out of nothingness but are part of larger processes that might just be recurring.  I also played Angels and Airwaves' "The Adventure" to suggest that the class is, indeed, an exciting journal.  

For Friday's lecture on Theory, I will replace the opening song with a video.

Shows nicely that this is not really a theory but an ideal type.

I really do enjoy this class--heaps of fun stuff to play with, including lots of minds that are new to poli sci.  Alas, it is likely to be the last time I teach it for the foreseeable future, but more on that later.

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