May 04, 2010

Don’t it always seem to go

“Semesters end with a whimper,” I complained to my students. We’re a small science school, and most of our courses finish with cumulative final exams and big research projects. Students have so much work to do during the last two weeks of class that they often resemble zombies, stumbling about in a sleep-deprived state. Faculty, facing grant deadlines, contentious faculty meetings, and stacks of papers to be graded, are usually functioning at an even lower level, since their older bodies can’t be jump-started with a jolt of caffeine.

But yesterday, for the last class of the semester, one of my students brought her guitar. At the end of the hour, she took the guitar out of the case and came to the front of the room. We formed a circle around her, a roomful of sophomores, juniors, and seniors from all different departments on campus who have been reading, talking, and exploring ideas together all semester. We've shared stories and food and poetry.

She played Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi and sang every verse, while two other classmates drummed the rhythm and classmates chimed in on the chorus.

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone.
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.

A lovely end to the semester.


Lomagirl said...

What a lovely celebration- and a nice compliment to you.
We're having a party on Friday and a time to reflect on the semester. Exams every day until then, though.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Once I climbed a mountain with my sister's husband (and some other people), and we sat on top of it surrounded by miles and miles and miles of forest, and he said dramatically, "Someday, this will all be a Walmart parking lot." Bittersweet laughter.

Not really related to your post but when I hear that song, I think of my brother in law's comment.

jo(e) said...

I can remember when I was a kid, we visited friends who were moving because their house was being torn down. We played on a swing in the backyard and looked down at a marshy field filled with wildflowers and birdsong, and my father said, "They are going to fill that in and build something." They did build a mall, surrounding by parking lots. I always think of the Joni Mitchell song when I drive past there.

Seeking Solace said...

OK, that is just way cool!!!

rented life said...

This and your post about the class poem makes me want to come watch you teach. Most people come to me for teaching advice, it'd be nice to learn instead...

I always think at the end of the semester free coffee stands should be put up in the halls. I think it'd help and make us all chat for a bit.

Twice said...

This sounds lovely. I've had some classes that gelled in this way, but many times I don't quite pull it off.

I'm relieved and saddened to hear you also have contentious faculty meetings.

Kyla said...

I'm so glad this semester is over!