IT’S HOT, SO HOT…: THAT CLASSROOM AGAIN!!

If you care to read my entry for 16 February, you will see I’m trapped in a kind of sinister loop.

Then I complained bitterly about the appalling conditions of classroom 302 in our Facultat, a room which is beginning to remind me of Stephen King’s 1408 and other mythical Gothic rooms. After being called names, such as ‘selfish,’ my students and I were moved last semester to a much better classroom. 302 has been revamped in the meantime but not really that much: still no platform, same whiteboard, no air conditioning… at least the eraser was not placed this time on a plate. By the way, I have a projector but no computer equipment (I’m supposed to bring my own, self-financed laptop). We have two tiny windows, a blind is broken and temperatures inside the classroom were yesterday at 15:00 in the afternoon above 30º (that’s 86º Fahrenheit). I’ve asked my very sweaty 50 odd students to bring in a thermometer next day to check if they’re actually closer to 35º.

An optimistic colleague who always looks on the bright side of life, tells me I should be happy that I’m getting sauna for free as I teach. Well, I know I’m supposed to earn a living with the sweat of my brow, but this is too literal! I thought of bringing an electric fan to class (instead of the computer…) but I finally brought just a hand fan, feeling it would be disloyal to keep fresh as my students fainted. Sooner or later one of them will indeed faint and then we’ll see what happens. You might say that all this is because temperatures are still unusually high for this end of summer but, then, if they’re too high for basic human breathing in class maybe the beginning of the course should have been delayed. Or a new air conditioning unit found urgently. Try giving an introduction to Victorian Literature in this heat… I can at least walk up and down the classroom, searching for whiffs of fresh air but my poor students are stuck in seating rows, unable to shift their chairs for more breathing space. They sigh, fan themselves with the paper they should be using to make notes, look wistfully at the out-or-order air-conditioning unit and unglue their t-shirts from their chests every two minutes, look at their watches and hoping this original form of torture is soon over.

Hopefully, temperatures will soon start going down, as, traditionally, Mediterranean Catalonia is drenched by hard rains at the beginning of Autumn. I haven’t asked this time for a transfer to another classroom, for reasons that are too long to explain (and perhaps a bit of masochism). Yet, I’ve drawn the line at bringing my own computer or begging on my knees for one of the only 5 laptops the Facultat possesses for the staff in 11 Departments. The consequence? I’m back to basics: I’ll teach Victorian Literature this time with no film clips, no PowerPoint, no internet… just as I was taught – by reading and talking about what we read. It might even be an innovation.

I just forgot to say I work on a European ‘Campus d’Excel•lència Internacional’ (Outstanding International Campus).

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