Thursday, October 9, 2008

I Have Arrived

Today, I taught a complicated passage from Judith Butler.

We spent 45 minutes on 4 pages.

But I think that they understood something by the end.

Yes, this was my first excursion into theory-teaching. How I got a Ph.D. in comp lit without ever teaching theory is a mystery. Well, no it isn't. One word--strategy. And medievalist. So, two words. Actually, wait--here's six more--little support for graduate student teaching. Eight altogether. Never mind.

What's kind of sad is that I felt really chuffed that I could make sense of this difficult text and that they, at least initially, couldn't. It meant that I'd actually learned some skillz in grad school. Pathetic that I'm comparing myself to undergrads to remind myself of that, isn't it? (Even if they are seniors?) Evidently the Academic Impostor Syndrome that I thought I'd managed to get over is still hanging on around the edges.

Ah well! It was a good day.


Belle said...

Isn't it an amazing feeling? I managed to get a history/political science degree w/o ever stepping foot into an econ class. I'm always thrilled when I can make those dead white guys make sense to 21st century undergrads.

Bardiac said...

Well done! Butler's difficult to teach, so good job helping them understand!

Unknown said...

I enjoyed your post today. At the moment I'm trying to teach Aristotle to freshmen, and I'm hoping to having a day like yours soon.

Anonymous said...

Good post. It's interesting that you mention the impostor syndrome.

Over 20-years ago, I saw Paul Newman in an interview say that he always had the feeling that someone was going to come through the crowd, take him by the arm and say, "It's over Newman. It's all been a mistake. You're coming back to paint houses."

When he said that, I immediately understood the feeling. Later I learned that he was describing the impostor syndrome. The Impostor Syndrome is the feeling that you are not as smart, talented, or skilled as people think you are. It's the feeling that you are a fake and have been getting away with something and are about to be found out. It affects 70% of adults and is especially prevalent in high achieving women.

I've spent the past two decades living with and learning about this common condition.

The Impostor Syndrome is a fascinating topic and the subject of my new book, "The Impostor Syndrome: How to Replace Self-Doubt with Self-Confidence and Train Your Brain for Success."

You can download Chapter One, "Paul Newman and I" at

Notorious Ph.D. said...

You know, you *should* feel chuffed. I've found that I've never really understood anything until I attempt to teach it. Then it all slides into place. I wonder if we should adopt this as a pedagogical strategy -- make our advanced students actually teach each other? I've had no success at all with student-led discussions (they always ask the wrong questions), but maybe if we made them do a mini-lecture?