dynamite_lady: (coffee1)
2011-11-22 09:17 pm

A three-cup day but worth it

Today was my lesser teaching day (as in two seminars to tomorrow's three). I decided to take the brave terrifying positively foolhardy slightly unusual step of not taking in a thermos of coffee to keep me going. I had two cups of coffee in the morning before going out - one very early when Ducki got up and made me one, then another after a couple of hours work. I GASP bought a cup from one of the many more-or-less branded Costa outlets around campus in my break, and sat in the cafe reading a work-y book.

Both seminars were fine, if a bit sparsely attended. The students responded well to being offered mince pies. I'll miss the little bastards dears, hope I get some of the same ones next semester. Not just because I want to reap the rewards of spending the last 9 weeks trying to instill good work habits in them!

Then I managed to finish my summary of the literature on alter-globalisation movements. A day later than I'd have liked, but that's not so awful.
dynamite_lady: (Default)
2011-11-17 11:05 am
Entry tags:

In which I have never been more relieved that my own name is an unusual one

I am chronically embarassed today. I have two students with the same (slightly unusual) first name. Normally I'm not conscious of this, as they are in different groups so I'm not thinking about one when the other is there, if you get my drift. Let's call them Sabrina - no resemblence to the real name, but has a similar level of infrequency among people their age.

Sabrina #1 was a bit high-maintenance when the first essay was due. She doesn't quite beat the record of one of my Nottingham students who sent at least one email each day in the runup to the deadline and at least one a week at every other point in the term, but there were a lot of emails. So when she emailed me a question yesterday, I did wonder if it would be the start of a deluge. Of course I answered constructively, because at the end of the day I want them to do well.

To set the scene this morning. Enter decaffinated tutor stage left and Sabrina #2 stage right. Sabrina #2, understandably I guess, asked a very similar question to Sabrina #1. Being in a decaffienated state and having pretty much just woken up, I just read the name 'Sabrina' and felt my heart sink - surely nobody could need to ask pretty much the same thing twice! My reply was polite but terse and involved something along the lines of 'you were on the right track yesterday with...'

Then, after hitting send and logging out, I thought 'OH FUCK I have two Sabrinas don't I' and logged back in to discover my mistake. Cue apologetic email, qualified with 'but [debate] is the way forward for you as much as it was for her'. Coffee #1 was downed before the fuck-up fairy could have any more input. Amazingly I've only now started drinking coffee #2. More on that later.
dynamite_lady: (Default)
2011-11-08 11:35 pm

Adventures in teaching moral responsibility

In my classes today we discussed illustrious personages such as Stanley Milgram, Fred West, and scariest of all Rebecca Wade (in the context of riots outside alleged paedophiles' houses). Milgram was pretty early on, and I think he's going to be a standard example in classes on moral responsibility - it's a situation where people could justifiably claim they were causally determined by another agent to do something apparently immoral (electrocute someone - thankfully it was actually an actor behind the screen), but where they were also making a reasoned response to circumstances (assuming none of them electrocuted people to death for a hobby outside that scenario). The ability to do the latter suggests that the person has some free will and is morally responsible for their act.

On the nonce-hunting front, the purpose was to give a concrete example of why we might want to take moral anger out of criminal justice. Dirk Pereboom sees this as a major advantage of removing free will (which he doesn't believe we have or have need of) and by extension moral responsibility from the equation. The debate in class today was whether moral anger, outrage, repugnance etc was a destructive force in dealing with crime or a necessary element in telling right from wrong.

Fred West only came up in the second of today's two classes, I'm not sure I'll make regular use of that example, but I was getting a bit desperate to convey how someone's arguably immoral and definitely harmful to others acts might be causally determined by their past. I'm not convinced by that view, but can give it some credence - the students weren't even doing that, at least bringing serial killing into the equation focuses their attention...

Oh, and I also managed to derive some innuendo from reading up on the Zapatistas. Did you know members of the EZLN army have to ask their commander's permission to have sex? The idea being that the commander then knows two people will be indisposed if there is an attack, so s/he needs to be sure they are not skiving defensive duties to go and shag. Unfortunately - or fortunately for me since corrections-related stuff brings about a need for light relief wherever I can get it - Subcommandante Marcos chose to phrase this as 'I need to find someone to cover their positions.' Which in context sounds a bit dodgy...