Adventures in Ethics and Science

Under the weight of the semester.

It’s the last day of November. I have three more meetings with each of my classes before finals. I have oodles of grading to do before finals. I have one big administrative task and at least a dozen smaller ones to do before the end of the semester.

And, at the moment, I feel as though the weight of the semester is pressing down on me, like the stones used to press to death that one man so sentenced in the Salem witch trials.

I have always thought I preferred the semester system to the quarter system, as academic calendars go — a longer calendar giving you a more reasonable amount of time to cover the material you want or need to cover plus maybe even allowing some time for reflection. This year, however, there’s a voice in my chest (the one getting crushed by the weight of the semester, I suppose) that wants it to Just Be Over Now.

I am hopeful that I can get through this feeling to keep treating my students and colleagues with equanimity. If anyone has good advice on how to do that, I’m all ears.


  1. #1 Anon
    December 1, 2009

    This semester, for the first time, the stress of the situation has me on anti-anxiety meds. 20 years of teaching, and now this.

    Not fun.

  2. #2 choebacca
    December 1, 2009

    My undergrad university had the quarter system and I always complained how ridiculously rushed things felt. I’m finishing my first semester of grad school and it now feels interminably long and I can’t freaking wait for the next 3 weeks to be over. I guess we complain no matter what situation we’re in. Good luck getting through the end!

  3. #3 B
    December 2, 2009

    I long for the 8-week terms we had in Cambridge (UK). This 16-week semester business is driving me crazy!

  4. #4 SteveWH
    December 3, 2009

    Grading dates. A local coffee shop, some good friends/colleagues, and a promise to not let each other get off track. You can help to keep each other honest, but still have good company for those moments when you need to put the stack of papers aside for five minutes to clear your brain.

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