Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Teaching through the Sweetness

Last night the English honor society was to meet at my house for an informal book club. Only two students showed up (not a huge surprise), but I think that it was kind of a success nonetheless.

I'm low on furniture here, so we sat on cushions on the floor eating grapes and drinking apple cider and talking about the book--and other books, and movies, and whatever else came up. These two students are so bright and idiosyncratic; the conversation ranged from Bergman to horror movies to Ivanhoe. What with the floor-sitting and the snacks the whole thing felt very collegiate, and I confess to being a little startled when, towards the end of the evening, one of the students addressed me as Dr. Mihi.

I'm having good feelings about teaching--and students--in general lately. Yesterday I bumped into one of my survey students as he was smoking a cigarette; I asked him how he was enjoying the reading. He told me that he'd been having a hard time with it but that the lecture had clarified things and he loved Satan's shape-shifting in the excerpt we'd read for that day; we talked a little bit about some of the more (and less) exciting things that he'd come across in the text. And last week I conferenced with all my comp students, which at least gave me a stronger sense of who most of them are as people (even if some of the conferences were more successful than others). One of the great things about Field students is that they tend to be pretty comfortable talking to professors. Of course, sometimes this isn't such a great thing, but in general it's nice.

The thing is, I really like most of my students--in some cases without good reason, since I know almost nothing about them and they seldom speak in class. But I look out and see them, day after day, all full of their own lives and their strivings and whatever else is going on, and when I'm in a good mood I feel a peculiar kind of tenderness for them. I want them to do well and I want my classes to push them along in their intellectual growth.

That's sappy as hell, I know. Oh well. I don't sleep much lately. Grant me my emotional outpourings, please!


Hilaire said...

Well, if that's sappy, them I'm the world's biggest sap! I totally get this feeling. I also think that it suggests you are a good teacher.

squadratomagico said...

yeah, I get that too. Especially just before class, when they are looking all quiet and expectant.