What a student said

“I really feel I learned in your class. You are a great teacher.”

I tend to think I am not, or should not be, yet that if I am not, I am in danger; or if I am it is because I have put in effort that should have been placed elsewhere. I am clearly not over all the terrorizing and scolding and warning I had to undergo.

I was constantly considered to be conspiring to do things wrong or to remain in academia while incompetent, or to spend too much time on the wrong thing. It was not that I was in fact acting incompetently. It was that one might, to anyone, at any time, appear vulnerable to accusations of this. That was what counted. For some it was important that you look stressed, or that you not be seen relaxed.

Later on it was recommended to do superficial work and to rush through it. Successful people did this, it was said. But I had never liked rushing, even though I am not slow, and I like to take time to think about things.

Others would rush to grade papers or mark up xeroxes in the ten minutes between classes. I would sit in the sun and stare out at the distance. It meant I had a few minutes’ work in the evening or early morning, before leaving home that they did not, but I was also less tired when I got home and I had my thoughts in order. I still disagree that there was anything wrong with my method.

Most recently my terror has to do with being accused of having inappropriate teaching goals — but I cannot find anything in the literature that would indicate this. I am trying to de-terrify myself.


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