Postscript on teaching

I really am not cut out to teach in a foreign language department, and perhaps not in a foreign literature department, either. I did not have these problems in graduate school but they surfaced as soon as I left that institution and they have not left me.

1. Bad foreign language teacher. Too much speaking in the language; too much interest in conversation and reading; too much interest in culture or rather, the study of cultural phenomena and cultural objects; expect students to pick up grammar and vocabulary easily, if they care about it; do not care too much if they are not perfect; no interest at all in testing and hardly any in other forms of assessment; terminally bored when they lack language awareness generally and thus cannot pick up well in the class; not interested in students who do not bring language interest or willingness with them already.

You will say: but you sound wonderful, this is how you should be, stay and advocate for what you know is right? But I speak foreign languages the way I walk or breathe; just because I can do these things, must I sacrifice my life to teaching walking or breathing? Also: were I interested in this I would have gone into it as a field, or “gone secondary” so I could teach it somewhere where it would be easier to create a happy life outside of school.

My worst sin is that for basic classes I would rather teach English, History, Latin American Studies. I am thus not a foreign languages person at heart, and the fact that I have learned so many foreign languages is proof of it; a foreign languages person has dedicated their life to imparting a particular language, and that person is not me.

2. Bad literature teacher. Abstract mind, theoretical, not “psychological” or “emotional” or “creative” enough; too interested in experimental writing; too interested in form; not focused enough realism or bildungsroman.

I need to get out of academia for these reasons, I really do; it has always been true. I want to be in English or Comparative Literature or Latin American Studies, or if I have to be in Spanish and Portuguese I want a good graduate program.

There is so much else to do in life, I do not know why people felt I was betraying them when I said I wanted to try other things. I don’t know how to make it up to them.

Am I just torturing myself to avoid not torturing myself, as I suspect? No: I am doing it because am angry with myself and with a situation and I feel I do not have the right, so I have placed myself in a dungeon.

The situation in question, which has to do with undergraduate teaching, is one that will replicate itself until it is dealt with. Not dealing with it hobbles me, and I am afraid to deal with it for some practical reasons that are not really unreasonable. I think I will have to deal with it anyway.


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