Tuesday, March 07, 2006


One of the things that astonished me upon my introduction to academic blogs was the fact that teaching is considered second class. This is not necessary true for bloggers; as far as I can tell, the bloggers I read like teaching despite the endless rounds of repeated mistakes. But. There is nonetheless the feeling, the aroma, the aura that they are alone in their interest in teaching; I know there are stories out there of feeling the need to defend oneself for not wanting to work at an R1.
(Side note: this is another thing I learned from blogs, the whole Carnegie ranking, and now that I finally don't have to go look it up anymore, they've changed it. And to go further down this tangent, I don't get the new rankings. Time to pull myself back.)
I don't understand this scorn of teaching. It's the whole reason I came to grad school. I went to a small liberal arts college, and I adored my professors. They were enthusiastic about their subject, and "acted" like they wanted nothing more than to inculcate (yes? sometimes I use the wrong big word) that love into their students. Again, reading blogs has introduced me to the idea that it *was* an act, in the sense that a professor (and perhaps a school teacher) has a classroom persona. However, it's nonetheless clear that such an act is no more than a mask, like the exaggerated makeup a ballerina wears to make her features more visible to the back of the house. There still has to be real enthusiasm for the subject.
I loved that. That's what I want to be; I want to be someone who loves what they do, and wants to share it with everyone they can.
And then I get to grad school and discover, in my fifth year of a supposedly five year program, that I'm not supposed to want to do that. That these professors who loved what they did/do are somehow less than the professors that I work with now. That what I should have been wanting, when I came to grad school, was to find teaching the least interesting part of my job, and to want to struggle to publish the biggest paper, win the biggest grant, etc.
I don't want that.
But how do I get from where I am back to where I want to be?
(Ugh. Only slightly more coherent than yesterday. But I have to let it go. I don't know how else to learn to cohere quickly; and so long as I can't, I can't make comments in passing.)


Anonymous abd anonymous said...

You're not alone in wanting to focus on teaching. I also went to a small liberal arts college, where professors seemed to love teaching undergrads (well, that was the impression that they gave their students, anyway). I know other people who are products of those institutions who really do want to focus more on teaching than on cranking out paper after paper--but we are made to feel inferior for this desire. One thing that's bothered me about grad school is that we receive no training at all in how to teach effectively (I don't count "lunch seminars" on the topic), which just reinforces the inferior position given to teaching. But I have no solution to the problem.

It's nice to find someone else who's just starting a blog--I have as well to chronicle going through writing my dissertation.

12:57 PM EST  

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