Summer Nights

June 30th, 2015

I have passed the halfway point of my physical anthropology class, so it is a good time to check in with an update of my experiences!

First, hi class! I inadvertently blasted my site’s address on the projector screen when I was demoing Anthropomotron for my forensic anthropology lecture. This is a publicly-accessible site, of course, but I’ve never known of a student who was reading it while taking my class.

Teaching physical anthropology summer night class has indeed kept me very busy. Just as the class is learning the subject at a rapid pace, I have to keep up with course planning. Each week brings eight hours of class, which translates to around a hundred lecture slides! Using my own online course material as inspiration, I could make a lecture of fifty slides in three days, a pace that fits the schedule. On average, I spend a day making a slide outline of topics that makes sense, a day filling the slides with text, and the last day finding illustrations and videos. By the time I actually give the lecture, I’m usually already far into the next outline.

I do try to add activities to the class. One particular activity that I was looking forward to trying was Skeletal Voltron. I will detail this in its own post, but it involved students going outside to form a giant skeleton on the ground. I also had more typical activities such as discussions of articles. For the next class, I plan of having teams of students make posters about primates to present to each other. At the halfway point, and just after the first midterm, a short team project should keep the energy going.

Actually, I have been surprised by how attentive the class I’ve been. I’ve seen some zoned-out audiences in my time, but as I look out at my class, I see only a few sleepy faces. Especially surprising for a class that ends after 10 PM! I’ve been getting a lot of good questions and comments as well. Working off of what students say has been a fun exercise.

Alright, break is over. Prehistoric primates, australopithecines, Homo, and then it’s time for finals!


Cultural Anthropology Final Exam: ‘Dee-Now-Ment’

June 7th, 2015

And so the course comes to an end. Getting ready for the final, I greatly underestimated the time I needed to make the final exam. The previous exams went relatively smoothly: the first exam had fewer than fifteen questions and the second was mostly done in an hour and a half of nothing-else-to-do. The final was scheduled to be two hours, so I had originally planned a seventy multiple question exam (plus a few short answer). As I wrote the questions, I fell behind schedule and made the test fifty multiple choice questions instead, along with the short answer questions.

The final exam has a different purpose than the previous exams, so I structured it differently. The midterms have the dual role of evaluating students so far and reinforcing the information for further evaluating later. In this situation, mixing up the questions so that the exam jumps around the lectures makes sense. Asking questions out of the order in which the material was taught discourages students from memorizing the material as a sequence of events. Instead, the students hopefully make connections based on synthesizing the material. The final exam is the end of the course, so I did want to wrap up the experience of cultural anthropology as the students leave this topic for whatever is next. This is why I thought that asking the questions in order from lecture one to fourteen was appropriate. There is some continuity across lectures, so this order does make some sense epistemologically. (It was also less time-intensive to not mix up the questions after writing them).

As the students took the final, I was reading the book on teaching that I had mentioned earlier. I was too engrossed in the book because I looked up to see one of the students trying to clandestinely look at a smartphone! I had a few options on what to do about the cheating. Instead of busting the student, I gave a general class warning about having devices out, which seemed to have spooked him enough to stop. From then on, I also kept a closer eye on the test takers to make sure that nothing else was going on. I thanked the students as they turned in their exams, and then it was just me alone with the three posters, which no one had wanted to take with them.

After the exams were turned in, I went straight to the Datalink grading machine so I did not have to return to campus later. I had the exams fully graded that night. Overall the class did well! I went fairly easy on the attendance and participation grades, which helped everyone. I have some thoughts on how to tweak the grading system. I plan to have a blog post about lessons learned and thoughts on future improvements.

I have a summer night course starting next week, which I may document week-to-week depending on how much free time I have. I’m teaching physical anthropology on campus for the first time, so there are a lot of preparations to make. I did not consider how much material needs to be made for eight hours of class per week! There are also logistical issues to consider as I need to consider the class’s stamina, as well as my own. On the plus side, having taught the course online last semester gives me a slight advantage. Thank you for following along as I taught my first classroom lecture course! See you after… some time?


Cultural Anthropology Week 15: The Final Countdown

May 30th, 2015

The last lecture wraps the course material back around from globalization and applied anthropology back to the fundamentals of anthropological research. Like a good conclusion, the last lecture should not have any startling new materials, so I created it out of past slides. I took the most eye-catching and discussion-generating photos and overlaid the main points of each lecture. The result was a fairly dynamic trip down memory lane, if I do say so myself.

The process involved looking at all of the previous lectures. Like an old yearbook photo, the first lecture looks a bit cringeworthy to me now. Back then, I was slavishly following the textbook, cramming in ten slides just on the definition of culture. For the final lecture, culture was just ‘shared and learned beliefs and behaviors.’ I definitely have to redo the first lecture for the future, even though it got good comments from the students. I should at least make its style fall in line with the groove I got into by the fifth week. The first lecture did not even start with a fullscreen attention-getting image! It was just black text on a white background.

Class went well without any major concerns or regrets, though I ran into some technical difficulties at the start. In the excitement of going to the museum last week, I left my lecture thumb drive in class. I loaded up today’s lecture on another drive at home, but the classroom computer would not read it. Luckily, I had the slides with everything but the presenter’s notes uploaded on Blackboard! I signed in and downloaded that version to use. One shudders at what would have happened if I had kept uploading text-less slides to Blackboard as I did at the beginning of the semester.

I had made a final exam study guide to hand to the students. Learning from last time, I did not elaborate too much on it after passing it out. I then gave the final lecture, which mostly matched the study guide. During one of the breaks in the lecture, I was checking Facebook on my phone outside when I saw someone post a link talking about takanakuy, or ritualized Andean fist fighting. Held on Christmas, the event is a festival where people with grudges engaged in refereed combat to settle their differences and start anew for the next year. (Yes, the article on Facebook used Festivus as a reference point). I immediately went to the computer to find a good video and I showed it impromptu to my students after the break! Besides really rousing the class, it also had a lot of tie-ins to talking about rituals, social control, and the function of alcohol (which is the final glue used to mend the fences).

After lecture, I had the last team present their poster, since it was not ready last week. There was still the issue of poster grading. In my poster instructions, I had stated that there would be a peer component in which the team members would rate each other’s performance. Sensing some discord in at least two of the groups, I was not sure if that was the best idea anymore. Like past conundrums, I put it to the students: should they grade each other or not? The class was overwhelmingly against individual poster grades, possibly sensing some type of prisoner’s dilemma shenanigans. With that settled, I told them each team would get a shared grade based on the poster and everyone seemed pleased.

With that, it was time for the last end-of-class question. It was a simple “Which was your favorite lecture, and why?” Then, the last class was done. See you after… the final!


NPR: Will Your Job Be Done By a Machine?

May 27th, 2015

Seems like I’m safe, even though they automated getting a picture of me.

Automate


Cultural Anthropology Week 14: Field Trip!

May 21st, 2015

Ever since a student joked that we should go to the San Diego Museum of Man as a class, Week 14 was going to be special. In addition to the trip, the day also marks the end of the poster project that was started after spring break. The plan was simple: we will have the team poster session at the start of class and then go to the museum for a few hours.

Well, plans have had a way of not working out like I had imagined. The first issue, which was the result of last week’s lack of work during poster work time, was that only one poster arrived in class completely done. Another was brought to class unassembled and the third was missing in action. In my design for the project, the poster was supposed to be finished the week before, but none of the teams got that impression. For next time, I will emphasize that the poster is due before the presentation. I may have the posters turned in to me the week before, at least for a graded inspection, for example.

The second issue was that it was another rainy day in San Diego. As a result, many students missed the start of class due to traffic. (The freeways get packed at the slightest hint of rain). As we waited for more people to show up and for the second team to glue their text to the poster, I talked with the team that had their poster done. I did earn a lot of professor points as, right after a student joked that we should get breakfast on the way to the museum, I revealed that I brought mini cupcakes for the class.

When poster two was done, I started the presentations. The team with the newly-minted poster elected to go first. I had the other students gather around as the team went over what they found out about the culture they researched (the Basque of France and Spain). After their summary I tested their ability to think on their feet by asking a few light questions about their research. We then went to the next poster and heard their talk on the Ainu. Their poster had an interesting cyan color scheme, which I was told was due to the printer running out of ink!

At that point, the third team received a call from their missing teammate, who had the poster. It turned out that the student was hurriedly printing out the material at the library. Since it was time to leave for the museum I told the third team to have the poster ready for the next class.

It is school policy that I have nothing to do with field trip transportation so I drove to the Museum of Man alone. The rain had turned into a drizzle by then. Even on a rainy morning, Balboa Park, where that museum was located was packed with cars. By the time I found parking in one of the farther lots, most of the students were already at the museum. I handed out their extra credit assignment and they were off.

{ Museum of Man panorama. }

{ Museum of Man panorama… Museum of Manorama.}

Oh, right, the assignment. I made two assignments for the museum trip: a serious one about the Race: Are We So Different exhibit, and also a fun photo scavenger hunt for the rest of the museum. I had gone to the museum on a free Tuesday a few weeks ago to find inspiration for clues and wrote them up this past week. The task is for students to photograph what each clue was referring to, then upload the photo to a wiki page on Blackboard. The scavenger hunt was collaborative, so everyone gets all of the points for each clue that was correctly solved. You can download the assignment for your own purposes here!

IMG_2338

{ Life-sized Gigantopithecus! }

The students went off to see the museum, clue sheets in hand. To my surprise, most of them moved in a pack. Since the team concept did not seem to take hold, most recently evidenced by the poster project, I expected the students to wander off on their own. For a while I stuck around near the entrance to wait for more students, but after a while, I went off on my own. I passed the pack of students a few times. After a while, at their urging, I went along with the pack. It was fun to see them try to figure out the clues as they went, and I did see the museum recently so there was not much for me to do on my own.

{ Statue of a garuda from Bali. My mention of Bali in every lecture became a running joke. }

{ Statue of a garuda from Bali. My mention of Bali in every lecture became a running joke. }

A few of the students paid extra to see the Instruments of Torture exhibit. I had never seen it, so I got a ticket as well. It was interesting and disturbing to see all of these torture implements and read about how they were used. It is astounding how the people in power invested so much in creative ways to injure and publicly humiliate in the Renaissance and colonial times. My favorite torture museum is still the Museo de la Inquisición in Lima, though, since the museum is actually in a location where they tortured people.

After seeing that exhibit, a few students cashed in their coffee drawing winnings. Over bubble tea and pho, we talked about our own experiences at the school and how the class went. I learned a lot about their lives away from school, the other seven times twenty-four, minus three hours of their lives. With lunch wrapped up and the sun shining, it was time to call the field trip a success.

Next week is the last class session before the final exam. On the agenda is the third poster, and a final lecture which will review everything we have learned about cultural anthropology. Sometime I will also have to work out what to do for the participation and attendance grades. It is pretty exciting that the semester is coming to a close! See you after class.


Cultural Anthropology Week 13: Not According to Plan

May 13th, 2015

Week 13 brings the last lecture with new material and more time to work on the poster. Well, that was the plan. Several complications got in the way. Unlucky 13!

First, as the semester winded down, I was worried about the surprise Dean class inspection I was told about. While I was visited by a professor a few weeks ago, I was told to expect two visits. With so few class sessions left, and one a field trip, I was did not want to cause a scheduling snafu with my bosses. Earlier in the semester, I submitted a form that stated when my lectures were going to be for the inspection, but the class schedule had changed by then.

Increasingly paranoid about an impending Dean visit, I rearranged the day’s schedule. It made more sense to do the lecture first, then have poster work time, but what if the Dean shows up in the second half of the day? Instead, I declared poster work time to be first in the morning, and then end with the lecture.

Complication two was that poster work time was lackluster. Only one of the three teams even brought the poster to work on, so that left two teams with nothing to do. The team with the poster left for the library to work on it, with instructions to return in an hour. Since the class then turned into hang-out time, I started browsing streaming videos that I could show instead. As I searched, one of the students actually went up to the board to have an impromptu game of hangman, which entertained the class for a little bit.

I ended up showing a video I saw a while ago, but had no time for. It was also a little weird. Someone during the religion and rite of passage lecture mentioned the Satere-Mawe practice of wearing mittens filled with bullet ants. A little bit later, one of the Youtubers I follow had a video of going to Brazil to experience the ritual (skippy62able, 2015).

The video showed how connected we are with today’s technology, so I thought it had a little connection to what we have been learning. It was also pretty interesting and funny.

After that, I went on a hunt for another video. On the Films Media Group site, I saw a film called The Himbas Are Shooting (Bardet, 2012). The Himba, one of the Namibian pastoralists, were actually on my mind because someone in the last lecture asked about their hair style in one of the slides. (This article [Styles, 2014] has great pictures of Himba hair. On a side note, I have noticed that the Daily Mail of all places have great articles of a cultural anthropological nature, with wonderful photos by Eric Lafforgue and Stephanie Ledoux).

The film turned out to be really charming and entertaining. It also tied into the lecture that day on applied anthropology since it was about giving traditionally underprivileged people a voice (the director, Solenn Bardet, appears to be an anthropologist in everything but professional training).

The plot of this film, which plays with documentary and fiction, is that the members of a Himba village want to make their own documentary to show what they think is important about their life. The result is a series of vignettes that could be real life, an acted-out scene, or both. The students watching in class noted the sense of humor that the Himba filmmakers exhibited. Across all of the lectures and films before, something about people that did not get across was that people are funny all over. Several times, there were parodies of western culture which hit home pretty solidly.

The film ended right when the lecture was scheduled to start. For some reason, the lecture did not garner as much interest as the previous lectures. Maybe moving the lecture to the last half of the class time sucked the energy out of the class. Or the reality of the upcoming poster deadline hit. In any case, watching a Bolivian rap video only got a bit of attention and an attempt to discuss the military application of anthropology did not really go anywhere.

After the class ended, I checked my school email. The Dean’s assistant emailed me back about the Dean visit I was so concerned about. The message: I misunderstood the procedure! The visit by the Dean was actually for my online class, and that was done. So basically I was worried about nothing the whole time.

While it was a drag to end the lectures on a low note, things are looking up for the remaining two classes. Next time we will be presenting the posters, which are probably being made as I write this. Then it is off to the museum! The last class will be a final review as I tie everything together. See you after the museum!

References

Bardet, S. (Director). (2012). The Himbas are shooting [Film]. Paris: Gédéon Programmes.

skippy62able (Username). (2015, April 6). L.A. BEAST vs the worst pain known to man (ft. LA FENIX) (warning: multiple man tears) [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NMNbr4z7eE

Styles, R. (2014, April 18). That’s an unusual look! Namibia’s Himba tribeswomen sport incredible hairdos created using goat hair, butter and mud (but the married men have to cover up in turbans). Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2607647/Incredible-photos-reveal-elaborate-hairdos-Himba-tribe-created-using-goat-hair-MUD.html


Cultural Anthropology Week 12: Getting Very Near the End

May 8th, 2015

How to cover globalization in two and a half hours? I broke up the topic into three parts. The first is the lead up to world systems theory, delving again into how anthropology is conducted to show how the field has switched from viewing cultures as contained systems to seeing cultures as nodes in a grander system.

The second part was a lengthy but non-comprehensive trip though the causes and effects of globalization, starting at industrialization and touching on both the positive and negative results, such as cheap consumer goods, cheap labor, multinational corporations, pollution, and climate change. For the slide on pollution, I built on a random fact I mentioned last lecture that got a lot of attention: that an underground coal fire has been burning in Pennsylvania since the 1960s. I did a little more research on coal seam fires, which the class enjoyed hearing about, though it was a pretty terrible realization that these fires are raging in many parts of the world wasting fuel and dumping toxic gas into the atmosphere. Sleep tight!

The last third of the course was more directly anthropological in nature. I looked at the effects globalization has had on people who practice different subsistence strategies. The take-home message was that the simpler the strategy, the harder the entrance into world economics. This sets up the next lecture on applied anthropology and how anthropologists fight for the least powerful.

I chose a few video clips to show the class, but actually playing them on screen exposed a flaw in how I choose videos. I typically have candidates playing in a little window on my computer when I am working on the lecture. Oftentimes, I am not watching the video, but listening to the content to make sure that it is interesting and jives with the lecture. As I played one of the videos in class, I was met with the most cheese-tastic special effects with 80’s laser sounds. It could have been worse, I guess! Another video, which I had not really watched, was presented in that hip animated whiteboard style. The students really enjoyed that one.

This lecture really starts the conclusion of the course. As we started with how anthropology is done, the next class ends with what anthropology is doing. After that, the next next class has no lecture. The class will have the poster session and then it’s off to the San Diego Museum of Man to see the traveling Race: Are We So Different exhibit! See you, after class.


Cultural Anthropology Week 11: Make It On the Run

May 1st, 2015

The second exam brings an opportunity to work on my exam-making skills. The first exam had some things I wanted to change. I might have gotten too into making the test go from easy to hard, with easy being really easy (“What is anthropology?”) and the hardest was very hard (“How many morphemes are in this sentence?). The second exam will still have ramping difficultly, but with a less extreme curve. Also, why the questions got too difficult, there were too few of them. Everyone was done– well, everyone had done all they could– well before the half-hour mark of the hour-long exam. I felt comfortable in bumping the number of multiple choice questions from 15 to 25. Looking back, 15 is really a very small amount of questions.

Actually writing the exam took place on the road. On a family trip to visit my brother’s house, I brought along the iPad and keyboard and typed the test in the passenger seat. I just wrote what was on my mind, which I think goes along with what I think are the most important points. By the time we went to my brother’s house and back, two 40 minute trips, I had a finished draft of the exam.

Back at my own desk, I went through the draft to tally the number of questions that addressed each lecture. I had more questions about kinship and religion than I had for gender and race, so I evened them out by replacing some of the questions. I also reordered them all in roughly easy-to-hard order. Then it was off to the campus print center!

In class, I addressed a few questions the students had about what we had learned so far. The questions were very apt and they all actually related to one of the test questions. Right before the exam, I brought out a book called Mindset by Carol Dweck. The college gave out copies of this book for a professional development book club and the meeting happened to be after this class. The gist of Dweck’s book is that having a growth mindset of accepting challenges as opportunities to learn produced longer term success. In her experiments, she gave a half hour talk on mindset to various classes with impressive results. I figure an impromptu minute-long talk to my class before the exam would not hurt.

Test completion took more time than in the previous exam, but only one person was pushing against the deadline (he had come in to class late). I had fewer questions about the exam as well. I also noticed that people were in better spirits this time. I don’t have the tests graded yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if grades were improved.

The rest of the class ended up being a lecture on technology, as the syllabus stated. Last week, I was looking for a better topic, but I warmed up to the old plan. The lecture was formatted differently than the others, which is a good change of pace. I delved into how anthropologists approached technology via models such as cultural ecology and cultural materialism. Then, I went over a few of the major technological developments in human history and prehistory, starting with stone tools and ending up at information technology. The slide on alcohol was an especially big hit with the students, learning about different ingredients and fermentation processes, including using spit as a catalyst for chicha, or Andean maize beer.

The next lecture, on globalization, will be the last class-length topic, well after discussing the exam. In a way, this is the beginning of the end for the anthropology class, as we head towards the conclusion of anthropology’s place in the world. Phase one is learning about how globalization has high potential for abuse and exploitation, though there are good aspects as well. See you after class!


Cultural Anthropology Week 10: Preparing for the Future

April 24th, 2015

Week 10 (!?) is a shakeup of the usual class schedule. For the first time, even including the first class, there was no new lecture material. Instead, the first hour was a review for the second exam, and the rest of the time was poster work time. When I was planning the course, way back in December, I figured that I could use an easier week by this point. Past Keith was correct in his prediction and I thank him.

After the first exam, I asked the students what both they and I could do different for next time. It turns out that the game I played was not viewed as especially helpful. Also, I was asked to provide a study guide. Sometimes I forget the simple things when going for the experimental! The good ol’ paper study guide was something that I had not even considered. I told the class I would put both suggestions to use for the second exam.

Before class, I wrote up a study guide that was a pruned outline of the course topics. I looked online for examples and some were just the slide outline. Boiling the last five weeks (nine, actually, since the exam was cumulative) into slide titles would have produced a guide that was too long to be useful. The 29 questions of the exam would only cover a small fraction of the slides anyway. Instead, I picked the top few topics and vocabulary words for each week. Making this guide was a great tool for me to design the exam as well. More on that next time.

On the morning of class, I met with the first student who cashed in the coffee drawing prize! It may be surprising to hear that no one who has won the weekly coffee drawing has actually claimed the reward. I suppose that the commuter college setup means that people are generally busy and far away when not in class. This first coffee chat was very interesting as I learned more about a student who was especially vague in the beginning-of-course survey. I also received some good suggestions about what to do in the rest of the class and for future classes.

The actual exam review had some highs and lows. I started with handing out the study guides and just going over what I had written. I’m pretty boring without cool pictures! I’m not sure reading over the study guide with the students really helped them. The second part of the review was more successful. I had told the students in the previous lecture and via email that I was going to have an activity and that they should be ready with questions from the course. Actually, I did not have an activity worked out until the night before class. A while back, I had read about an activity where students anonymously write questions and answer each other’s questions. I don’t remember where I read about it, but some version of the idea stuck in my mind.

In class, I had them form a big circle with the wheelie-desks and each get out a sheet of paper. I gave everyone around five minutes to write a question on the course material at the top of the sheet. Then, I collected the sheets and shuffled them, before randomly handing them back. The process was simple: each student should write a short answer or reflection on the question and pass the paper to the left. Each student would then add their own thoughts to the sheet until each paper had a comment thread of sorts about the top topic. Some students remarked on how this is like a low-tech message board! As sheets were passed, I caught a glimpse of some ‘likes’ that people left next to other people’s writing.

The commenting part of the activity went pretty well without direction. As papers piled up, students would be urged to wrap up their current sheet a little faster. I can directly cite where I came up with this part of the process: playing Magic: the Gathering with friends where we built decks out of shuffled cards being passed around. Anyway, since the questions and answers were anonymous, no one was put under high pressure to write something brilliant. I even told them that if they had nothing to say, or if they got their own question that round, to just pretend to write something and move on.

I sat in the big circle but did not write anything myself. I sampled the sheets as they passed by. Also, I had a great view of the clock, learning from my experience with the article discussion a few weeks ago! When each sheet had around ten responses, I had the students stop to get ready for the last part of the activity.

To capitalize on the low stakes anonymity, I had the students do some public speaking. Even though it was the tenth week, I had never heard the voices of a few of my students. While the pedagogy books are in favor calling on the quiet students in class, I am not comfortable with that advice. A long time ago, I was the quiet student who loathed being called on randomly. This activity presented a good opportunity. I had the students take turns going around the room, reading the question they ended up with to the class and then telling us about about the best comments on their sheet. It was great hearing the quiet students talk and they performed their roles extremely well.

I collected the sheets as “the natural conclusion to this activity,” even though I could not use them for attendance as they all lacked names. I did get to incorporate some of the questions into the upcoming exam, though.

The rest of the class time was spent working on the team poster project. I presented each team with the Elmers tri-fold poster, that I had bought (remember, there are only three teams). Each time started out working or reworking out their roles in class, but one-by-one they went to the library for research. Well, two of the teams might have “gone to the library,” since I didn’t see them there later! One of the teams was definitely there when I made my way to the library. A deal’s a deal with poster free time so I didn’t mind the disappearing act: it was their decision to make.

While at the library, I looked around the stacks since I like books and stuff. I saw a section set aside for books about teaching. I checked one out that looked interesting: The Adjunct Professor’s Guide to Success (Lyons, Kysilka & Pawlas, 1998). I may have to destroy it, though, since it knows my secrets. Under a section about what to do when you are underprepared for class, it suggested both having a class activity and having free work time!

Next time: making the second exam and my increasingly busy schedule. See you after class!

 

References

Lyons, R.E., Kysilka, M.L., & Pawlas, G.E. (1998). Adjunct professor’s guide to success. New York: Pearson.


Cultural Anthropology Week 9: An Important Day

April 16th, 2015

This week brings what I consider to be the most important lecture of the course. The topic is race as a cultural or social construct. Since race has such a large effect on people in our culture, it is important to know the current state of research on human variation and how race is an inaccurate model for it. Without the support of biology, race is a cultural construct, which places it in the realm of cultural anthropology.

The lecture on race was split into three parts. The first was the history of the race concept, stemming directly from the previous class on colonialism. The second part was about how the biological race concept was refuted anthropologically, first by Franz Boas, and then by other studies. The last third as about the genetic evidence against biological races and a conclusion that emphasizes the role of culture in giving meaning to racial categories.

As I mentioned at the end of the last post, this class was going to be observed by the full time anthropology professor at the college. When she walked in, I was having a discussion in class about how we do not consider the cultural diversity of distant places. As an illustration, I had an image of a shirtless Korean man with a tattoo of Africa on his shoulder and a wild set of dreadlocks. That was the best time for someone evaluating me to walk in!

I wrapped up the lecture and left the class so the students could fill out their evaluation forms for the visiting observer to collect. As I sat outside, I had a few good conversations with my students as they left the room, some with students who never spoke. I spoke with the professor as well when everything was done. She said I had some good ideas in my class, which was great to hear.

Maybe it was I had told my class how important it was to attend this lecture for the evaluation, but everyone was there and they were really engaged with the lecture, even before the guest arrived. Understanding the many arguments from anthropology and biology about why race is a cultural construct is no easy task, but the class had a lot of good observations and questions throughout the whole lecture. Actually, I was so happy with how the class went that I was pretty euphoric for a few hours afterward. It’s a good feeling, but it also meant that I did not get anything done the rest of the day.

Week 9 was the last full single-topic lecture for a while. Next week, there is no topic as the students prepare for the next exam and work on the poster project. The week after that is the exam and half a class on… culture and technology? When I wrote the syllabus, the second half of the course was sketchier than the first half since it was so far in the future. I may change the topic, though I can’t think of anything in particular right now. My remaining classes are on globalization, activism (which will also cover medical anthropology), and the current state of research (another filler topic).

See you after class!