This morning, after a four-month hiatus, I resumed my lecturing duty at the Durban University of Technology. It’s my alma mater and I’ve been lecturing part-time here for the best part of five years. It’s really awesome (marking aside) and I’m pretty decent at it — I think so, at least.
But every year — and every lecture, if I’m totally honest — I have the same fear: that one of my students is going to fall asleep.
This has never happened to me *races towards the nearest desk and touches wood* but I have an intense fear that it will. Why do I fear it so much? Because it means I haven’t been entertaining enough, or interesting enough, or informative enough. It means I haven’t done my job properly. And that’s what scares me.
To me, a sleeping students represents failure; failure on my part.
Lecturing is a tough job, contrary to what many people might think. Actually, let me rephrase that: lecturing can be a tough job, depending on how much work you want to put in as a lecturer. You get some who simply go through the motions, do what they have to do with minimal effort, and then leave the class uninspired and with huge amounts of research to do at home. I can never be that kind of a lecturer.
I cannot hand back an assignment unless I can explain, in detail, why the student got the mark they did. I won’t give an assignment based on a topic I haven’t dealt with in class. I cannot go through the motions in lectures. I can’t do a lecture without preparing notes and researching that section of work before the lecture starts. It makes my life a mission, but I just can’t do it.
The reason is simple: there are young people here basing their future on something I’m telling them. They’ve invested money, time and — hopefully — passion into something that they could well end up doing for their rest of their lives. Surely there is a HUGE responsibility, then, for me to do as much as I can to help them be as successful as they can. Surely.
As I sit here, the lecture room as three people in it. But there are 7 minutes until the lecture starts, so it’ll fill up. Please, please let it fill up. And, please — PLEASE — don’t let them fall asleep.