Friday, February 23, 2018

Today I am on strike, day 2

Today I did not get up, take my daughter out to school, arrive in my office and sit down to prepare my afternoon seminar. Instead, my alarm went off half an hour earlier than usual, and I -- having learned my lesson from yesterday -- put on the layers. An extra pair of tights. An extra pair of socks. Another long-sleeved shirt. Both pairs of gloves went into my bag, and the fleece-lined wool coat got dug out of storage. (And then I took the wool socks off as I couldn't find the shoes big enough to fit three pairs of socks.) It was 0C when I stepped out the door.

Today I did not give an MA seminar on Philosophical Argumentation, in which I intended to focus on the question "What makes a good philosophical question?" In our taught MA programme, the courses meet every other week and the entire programme only lasts a year. Missing one seminar is a huge percentage of the contact hours these students get. Instead, I joined my colleagues -- an even larger group than yesterday -- on the picket line. Today, I saw many of my students, both present and past. Two of them stopped with words of support. It's amazing how much that matters, to know that they know that I am not doing this as an attack on them.

Today I did not give my advanced logic seminar, building up towards the culmination of the term, proving Gödel's incompleteness theorem for Peano arithmetic. Instead, I reminded my students what I had told them last week -- knowing full well the likelihood I would be on strike this week was high -- that the material scheduled for today parallels very closely what we covered last week (last week we defined formulas that allow us to pick out all numbers which are codes of terms; this week, we were to define formulas allowing us to pick out all numbers which are codes of formulas), and encouraged them to meet anyway, perhaps at the pub down the street, to talk through the material. They're smart and hardworking students. I know they can master the material on their own. I know it will also be a lot harder without me, and that they will lose the benefit of all the knowledge I bring that is not in the textbook.

Being on strike is exhausting. There is so much I wish I could be doing instead. I am glad that tomorrow the weekend starts, and I have two days' reprieve.

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