Today I taught Nietzsche.
Taught is too grandiose a term. Today I did the readings for Nietzsche, understood almost none of it, peppered the professor with questions, watched fifteen YouTube videos explaining his philosophy, peppered the professor with more questions, watched the lecture, and then attempted to lead a discussion group.
And even then, I feel like I spent an inordinate amount of time in discussion group saying, “That’s a great question. I will check with the professor and get back to you.”
My friend special-requested a blog post reflecting on my TA experience, and as today is my last day leading discussion groups, I thought it might be a good day to fulfill the request. I actually think I might write a more thought out response once I have a few weeks (or months) distance from the experience.
But I feel like my experience with Nietzsche today sums it up pretty well.
I really enjoyed TAing. Not only did it come with awesome perks like free tuition, but I learned a lot about thinkers I would not normally read (or understand even if I did read.) I got to explore the texts with some awesome students (and other TAs.) And I truly got to learn from a great professor. (None of those people read this blog so I promise I’m not sucking up.)
But it was a lot of work. I was not like the other TAs. I am not getting a PhD in the subject. And while on some theoretical level, Plato, Kant, and Rousseau might relate to what I learn in law school, in reality the connection between them and Public Sector Law or Civil Procedure II feels much more tenuous.
Also, I low-key hate grading.
But I had fun! I discovered community on campus at the Meiklejohn House, which I never expected. And I helped two other law students get jobs as TAs—so I grew the tribe. For all the days of panicked trying to understand Hobbes before walking into the room and leading discussion, I spent mornings laughing with the secretary and student workers in the office. Or chuckling over particularly egregious papers. Or eating at the food stall across the street. Or scheduling an extra video chat with a confused student.
It was fulfilling and actually a lot more fun than being a law student. But I’m also pretty convinced that I don’t want to become a professor. At least…not for a while.