Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spring Break


I once knew a prof, European-educated, who claimed it wasn't his job to be anything but smart. He didn't have to sell his discipline; all that was required of him to stand or, preferably, sit in front of class and hold forth, because his having gained an education--a Ph.D.--meant he deserved the attention and respect of his students.

The trouble was, he wasn't getting it--attention and respect. He put students to sleep, and it was my job--I was his dean--to tell him so. That they didn't really care had not escaped his notice, but then they were spoiled American brats, etc., etc. etc.

I told him he was wrong. He told me they were spoiled. And then things just got worse--two old bulls in a china shop.

I was a lousy dean and he was a lousy teacher, but sometimes I think of his analysis and wish it were true. Wouldn't it be great if a teacher didn't have to have personality and charm; didn't have to be a salesman, a cheerleader; didn't have to light up the classroom, and had only to hold forth? Wouldn't it be wonderful if teaching really didn't require anything more than the mind--and not the heart and soul?

But it does, at least on these shores and certainly in some disciplines, saith this 40-year-veteran. It's one thing to know the material, another to sell it. And sometimes, these days, the older I get, the more I wish I were just holding forth in Europe.

So it's early in the morning and cold outside--January cold, again. Murderous cold. Last night, north winds howled. Those robins I heard Monday morning must be somewhere south of Kansas City. Yesterday afternoon, I saw a V of snow geese going south--I'm not kidding.

But I'm warm and delighted because even though the tag seems hopelessly out of season, we're moving into spring break. My triptik doesn't include Lauderdale or South Padre or Cancun; I probably won't even leave the county. No matter. For awhile at least, I'm not the one the class depends on when I walk into the room. I don't have to sell a thing.

This morning's thanks is a no-brainer--spring break.

1 comment:

Cara DeHaan said...

Our Reading Week is in February, which seems like a good thing... in February. Now, especially as elementary/high school kids and their families gear up for March Break, I'm wishing for another respite from the soul-engaged pedagogical performances you're describing. I won't complain too loudly, though -- my students' last day of class is April 2. Hooray for 12-week semesters!