My Greatest Pedagogical Triumph So Far

2013-08-14 10.32.44

Another school year has begun, and with it a veritable tour de force of a teaching week that should serve as a reminder to all that this is truly my calling–really, it’s my gift to the world. After all, who cares about a 65% pay cut when you have palpably obvious superpowers?

You readers already know that just reading this blog makes you infinitely more awesome. So it should be no surprise that in my classroom, students are nothing less than enraptured by my big, brilliant smartitude and the professorial gravitas that comes largely from this intellectual new hairdo:

I came home from the salon and my husband said: "Isn't that style a little...young for you?"

I came home from the salon and my husband said: “Isn’t that style a little…young for you?”

Yes, people, it’s only been a week, but it is quite obvious to me already (and my judgment is infallible) that those valiant young people lucky enough to be in my class simply become smarter, more contemplative and more compassionate just by sitting near me.  I can literally see the crackling fire of intellectual might radiating from brains that were but amorphous lumps of clay before they stepped foot into my inimitably spectacular sphere of influence.  I’m pretty shocked that I don’t already have my own line of MOOCs, to be honest, so riveting, inspiring and intellectually dominating am I.

Here is an anecdote from my first week of class that offers nothing less than abject proof of my continuing pedagogical dominance:

We were discussing several short articles on the relative merits of studying the Humanities in a changing (and sometimes Humanities-averse) world. Since this is a small, humanities-focused Honors College, all students there are fully aware of the school’s emphasis and ostensibly interested in the small seminar format and a writing-intensive college experience. Blowhard sarcasm aside for one paragraph, the discussions about the students’ expectations and what they found both important and challenging about the Humanities were quite contemplative and in many moments legitimately profound.

In discussing #9 on William Cronon’s rather effusive listsicle of qualities that good Humanists possess, “They nurture and empower the people around them,” shit got real for a second, when in all three sections I let my guard down  and spoke straight from the heart. “This is why I am here,” I said. “Let me tell you, it’s definitely not for the money.” Even though my employer pays well above the national average per course, I am still an Activist Adjunct at heart, so I do let my students know that I am part-time and paid accordingly, and that is why my office hours are so restricted.

Anyway, I continued apace, self-importantly and feelings-sharingly, to my third group of the day: “Being here with all of you, acting as your guide through our difficult work, helping you learn to write a paper in five hours instead of ten, to navigate your way through a monstrous text, to feel your brain actually twinge as the new fibers grow in it and you get smarter, to watch you blossom as writers and thinkers, to help you gain an invaluable set of thinking skills that will benefit you for your whole lives, to watch you enter the world with an intellectual curiosity and to be even a small part of that…that’s what gets me up in the morning.”

Pause. Beat. One wide-eyed student, Mortimer (not his real name), raises his hand, presumably to thank me for my dedication or remark upon how touched he is, and I say, gently and intellectually: “Yes, Mortimer?”

“Are we going to need our computers anymore today, or can I put mine away?”

He then proceeds, during the next five minutes of further discussion of the merits of the Humanities, to zip and unzip every compartment of his backpack with as much sonorous resonance as humanly possible, and heave, gruntingly, his monstrous laptop into and out of its every pocket, until, finally, satisfied, he zips it up with a commensurate ruckus, and the whole thing topples noisily onto the floor.

Welcome back to the Life of the Mind, me.



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