The following question came up on College Misery:
When did you realize you wanted to teach for a career? Before you entered grad school or after your first TAship? Or, at another time?
It was obvious that I was going to be a) a teacher and b) a scholar of literature before I reached the age of ten. Everybody is a teacher and a voracious reader in my family, so all I wanted to do as a kid was to read and play school. When I was five, I would create notebooks for all of my dolls and write their homework in them. Some dolls were smart and did great but some made mistakes and got bad grades. I can’t really even remember a time when I didn’t have a red pen on me to mark students’ assignments.
I was very shocked to discover that two works of literature approached the same events in such different ways. It was even more surprising to me that Pushkin, the most important Russian writer ever, was, in my opinion both then and now, vastly inferior to Aleksey Tolstoy (not to be confused with Leo Tolstoy), a fairly minor author. Of course, I immediately started to bug my father about this discovery.
“Daaaaaad,” I would whine. “But why does Pushkin say here on page 128. . .”
Eventually, my father got fed up and said to me, “Why don’t you just go ahead and write down everything you think about these two works of literature?”
So I did, and that was my very first work of literary criticism. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been preserved for posterity. 🙂