21 January 2010

Back to School...

I have a professor who was on a research leave last term. So, while we hadn't met during the previous eight weeks, I have the pleasure of learning from him multiple times a week this term. I am not sure if his teaching methodology expanded in a wave of creativity during his break from teaching or if what I am experiencing is standard.

He opened up our qualitative research methods class today with an announcement that it was time for everyone to close their eyes. I was certain that he couldn't be serious. After all, my classmates range from early twenties to mid-thirties. Surely, we are too old for this. Then, I realized that he couldn't be more serious. But, fortunately, I couldn't be more serious about keeping my eyes open (at least at his command. After all, there was a later period in the class where closing my eyes was not the problem.) No sooner had I done a mental check of my age and silently resolved to not participate in this childish (and hokey) exercise than he announced that class would not start until everyone closed there eyes. My reserve of refusal immediately dried up; I would jog around the room for two hours if it would make the time pass more quickly (and let's be realistic: it probably would).

When a few of my classmates arrived late (as usual), he cheerfully announced, "For those of you who have just joined us, we all have our eyes closed and are preparing to do some visualization." So, my classmates grabbed their hypothetical carpet squares and joined story/nap time. (Though, I can't be sure because my eyes were closed.)

Then, he instructed us to imagine that the year is 1984. First problem. As I was not living at the time, this was quite a challenge. I am not sure what I was supposed to be imagining. Maybe a New Year's sign flashing 1984, or an 80s music video, or maybe home video footage from my early childhood (just to get in the ballpark). But, the 1984 visualization was easy compared to what came next. Soon, he was leading us on a mental journey down a series of UK interstates. I think it would have been easier to imagine being on the moon during the space race. After all, I have at least seen pictures of that.

So, I had to find something else to occupy myself during this visualization exercise that I really couldn't participate in. I spent the next several minutes lamenting that I was being invited to close my eyes during the one part of class where I wasn't actually tired. After all, in just a few minutes, I would have welcomed the invitation to do a bit of "visualizing". Furthermore, he was starting me in the hole. Any sleep resistance or stimulation was quickly being depleted by this little exercise.

Eventually, he told us we could open our eyes again (at which point I groaned internally, I had just gotten used to the game). Just when I thought things had returned to "normal", he made some comment about being "fobbed off".

Welcome back to Oxford.

No comments:

Post a Comment