"In many disciplines, for the majority of graduates, the Ph.D. indicates the logical conclusion of an academic career." Marc Bousquet

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Blast from the Past

Saw one of my charter high school students on the subway today. I taught 11th and 12th grade there before starting grad school.

Kid used to sit in class and draw. And draw and draw. Never paid much attention but was otherwise a nice kid.

Former student: "Wow! Ms. recent Ph.D! Nice to see you! Are you still teaching?"

Me: "No. I left Charter School and taught at Grad U for awhile, but it didn't work out. I work at a think tank now. What are you doing these days?"

Former student: "I'm a freelance artist and graphic designer."

Me: "That's great!"

Former student, who seemed both happy with hir life and happy to see me, is older now than I was when I started teaching at Charter School.

The most distinct memory I have of this student involves an incident with hir and another calling each other "motherfucker" in class. They wouldn't stop, and so I told them they had to look up the word and copy down the definition -- 25 times. "Is that what you really meant to call each other?" I asked.

No, of course not, but reaching that conclusion was very dramatic and difficult, involving a trip to the principal's office and detention.

I'm glad ze is doing well now, leading a normal adult life.

Would that us postacademics, especially those currently unemployed or adjuncting, will end up doing at least as well as our students in the not too distant future


  1. I feel like I get "lapped" by my students all the time. I had dinner with some former students recently (they graduated about two years ago) and I had a sobering moment when I realized that the one earned more than me and my boyfriend combined, and had way better job security/career advancement set in motion. Sigh.

  2. It always makes me happy to see former students all grown up and doing well for themselves, especially from the charter school, which in many ways was kind of a hellish place. If I'd gone to high school there, I'd probably be in jail, a junkie, or dead by now. And I'm only partially kidding about that! This particular former student didn't go to college, except for a few community college courses, but ze is doing just fine. If ze can do it, we can, too!

  3. Good point. I don't begrudge them their success, precisely, I'm not that old and bitter *just* yet, but sometimes they make me feel woefully behind.