As I went on in my career, I heard other people voice some serious criticism of Harry Wong's methodology: how he values method over product, and routine over spontaneity. I understand that, and still, one of the messages from that book has never left me- something to the effect of at the end of the day, it should be the students doing the work, not me.
I wonder if I cling to that notion out of desperation, instead of any sense of wisdom. Is it wishful thinking to imagine such a life? As an English teacher (and as an inherently lazy person), I constantly collect and collect assignments and papers and then proceed to drown in them. The other day in a presentation I think I referred to myself as a 'swirling paper vortex'. This needs to change, for environmental reasons: saving both the trees and my home life.
I've begun to think about that concept of treating assignments as currency, and referring to course work as an obstacle or a barrier. So many times I'll say or hear my colleagues say 'We have to get through this', 'we have to go over it' or 'we have to cover this'. It sounds like I teach in an obstacle course instead of a classroom. On second thought, of course, it occurs to me that maybe the notion of obstacle course is as salient as anything else.
Am I the obstacle?
As I start this second half of the year, I am going to have to really try hard to avoid a few things.
- being as obsessed with grades
- lecturing, and pretending that is my love for Hamlet and not my love of my own voice that leads me to do so, and
- making any sense at all