Saturday, September 29, 2007

Flying Pig

This last week I have been busy teaching classes, grading papers and advising students. I teach three classes and have five honors students to advise regarding their senior thesis. Other than work I have found that my social life tends to revolve around eating out. There is a great Chinese restaurant not too far from campus. They have a pork dish that resembles boneless buffalo wings. I call it flying pig.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fall is almost here

Last night I finally wore a sweater for the first time since I arrived in Bishkek. It has been quite warm until now. Today the temperature is a bit cool and I put on a sweater again. Soon I am going to have to go get a winter coat.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Reading Assignments

In constructing my syllabi I tried to choose reading assignments that were short, clear and written for real people rather than ivory tower denizens. Unfortunately, given the nature of political science courses this was not always possible. In some classes like Democratization it was easy to find work written in English rather than academese. In other courses such as Political Culture it was much more difficult. But, the reaction from my students, a number who take more than one class from me, has been that they prefer the less pretentious writers. Robert Dahl and Fareed Zakaria have proven much more popular with my students than Barrington Moore Jr. To be honest I prefer them as well. However, I do realize that I am probably part of a very small minority of university professors in preferring popular to academic pieces.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Another Birthday

Unlike my birthday for the last two years, today I have to work. So instead of sitting in the Chicken Shack smoking mint shisha I will be lecturing students on Democratization and Russian Politics. But, I am happy that after three years of sending out job applications that I finally have a job.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Grading Papers

This week I graded my first batch of papers. Most of them were fairly good. A couple of them were outstanding. Finally, a few could have used some additional work. But, considering that none of my students are native English speakers, the quality of the writing was quite high overall.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

More on Teaching

For the last couple of weeks I have focused my attention on teaching. I have spent quite a bit of preparatory time going over and familiarizing myself with the material I cover in class. I want to be able to answer any student questions or requests for clarification on the assigned readings. I feel they deserve nothing less.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

One Week of Teaching Done

I have now been teaching for one week. Contrary to the academic orthodoxy I have not found this task impossible. As far as I can tell I have been able to successfully transfer some of my knowledge to the students taking my classes. What were those hundreds of people who rejected my applications on the basis that I was "incapable of teaching" thinking? Perhaps one of them can give me an explanation of their logic in the comments below.