An Illumination on Robert Boice, 6

Around freshman courses I feel fear, shame, guilt. This, of course, has to do with the way I have been exhorted about time spent upon them. I want to get a handle on this.

Due to the exhortations I received about such courses and the fear I thus attach to them, I procrastinate on the work for them. I am also perfectionistic about them — about my work in them, not the students’ — and it is fear, not my professional judgment, that tells me I should be. The result is that I do not teach these courses as well as I would if I felt less hemmed in.

It is in this area, then, that I should follow Robert Boice’s advice on writing — advice whose hegemony I resent as advice on writing. I resent that hegemony because in my view Boice’s advice it does not apply to people who do not like to write and/or are not accustomed to it.

I think Boice is speaking to beginners. Or, he is giving instructions on how to get things done, less painfully and more successfully, that one does not enjoy and would not choose to do normally. Or he is teaching people how to calm fears. These are in fact the teaching situations I have with lower division courses, so Boice’s advice applies easily.


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