Who teaches English? In one sense it is an impossible question, for when I look at the teachers I know and the teachers-in-training with whom I work, I see a bewildering array of types. They are young and old, aggressive and laid-back, political and apolitical. They come from teachers' colleges and universities. Some love Bleak House and others find it unreadable. Some write poetry, while others are afraid of poems. They all love (or hate) grammar. They are mostly women, but they seem to resist traditional gender roles. And even the one trait that I once believed to be typical of all English teachers -- that they all talk a lot -- has proved unreliable as I encounter more quiet students who want to teach English.
There is no one type that teaches English. I might agree or disagree with so-and-so's beliefs on the teaching of grammar; I might wish that someone else appreciated Dickens; I might believe that we need more men in the field. In the end I know there is no formula for success -- so there is hope for you and me. Yet a kind of cartoon image of the English teacher persists in the popular imagination. She looks something like Miss Grundy in the "Archie" comics. She has an inexplicable love of ancient (pre-World War II) literature. She has an irritating habit of correcting people's language. She seems to be cast from a different mold from the rest of