And a Little More on Teaching

One of the answers to the query at College Misery that I discussed in my previous post was:

Teaching was the only thing my degree is good for. I never had illusions about it being wonderful.

Nothing annoys me more than this attitude of fake martyrdom. If your never thought your degree was going to lead you to anything wonderful, then why, for Pete’s sake, did you get it? And how do you manage to come into the classroom, look into the faces of your students, many of whom probably do think their degree will result in something wonderful, and not feel like a total, absolute fake? Why don’t you just resign and look for something that will be wonderful for you?

Granted, teaching is not for everybody. Just like every other profession. But there are people who were born to teach and it is so sad to see all these malcontents occupying the spots that really good teachers could be given instead.

When I find myself in front of a classroom, speaking to my students, I get this incredible feeling which is akin to flying. I never tried drugs (I’m a very boring, conventional person), but I think that this is what a high must be like. You feel like you can do anything, your body becomes weightless, and you have this almost mystical experience of connecting with an audience on a profound level that words cannot describe. This doesn’t happen every single time, of course. But when it does, it is an absolutely priceless experience.

The reason why my students love me so much in spite of me being a very tough grader who routinely fails many of them and an autistic with a very distant personal manner is that I know how to create this environment of learning-worship (I just can’t find any other word for it) for them.

It is so annoying to imagine that there are so many of these miserable creatures who are sitting there, getting a salary they don’t deserve for doing a half-assed job of what other people could turn into a sublime experience both for themselves and for the students.

9 thoughts on “And a Little More on Teaching”

  1. For some reason, even people in my classes who teach as their job seem to get nervous about Class Presentation Day. For some of my courses each student has a day when they will teach a particular text to the class, usually for about half the period. I never have more fun than when I get to get up in front of everybody and pontificate about a text’s form, historical context, clever tricks of language, and all that. I can’t wait to get my internship so I can do it all the time [master’s course I’m in doesn’t have a TA program … 😦 <– sad lit-nerd.]

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  2. I stopped requiring oral presentations after a group presentations made so many errors that I didn’t know how to correct them without embarrassing them. And on the other hand, I couldn’t let the class believe that what they were saying was right. On top of that, they complained that I gave them a C- on the presentation. Not worth it.

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  3. I like teaching too, it’s lots of fun. But, just like driving, it takes a while to no longer feel nervous about doing it. πŸ™‚
    The flying feeling you get, it’s the adrenaline rush. I love it too.

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  4. It doesn’t make you nervous if you’ve been pushed on stage to recite or dance or act in plays from a very young age (in my case, 3 years old). It becomes perfectly normal πŸ™‚

    I love teaching. I also love mentoring. I love that at 26, I mentored a Masters student, and she now does research in the area we covered together. I think the reason I do well as a consultant is precisely because I internalised researching, cross-referencing, scanning texts (like proposals) for flaws, and addressing them. And, of course, of walking into a roomful of people with the confidence of having spoken in front of much larger crowds since I was three πŸ™‚

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  5. I am very interested to learn how you create the environment of learning worship that you mentioned. If you have a link/blog about that, I would be very happy to check on that. Thanks!

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