Academic journal article Peer Review

Dreaming of a New Semester

Academic journal article Peer Review

Dreaming of a New Semester

Article excerpt

I realized why professors have anxiety dreams at the start of the academic year: teaching is really hard to do. If you're doing it in classes of fifteen and forty students, as I am, you're teaching in a setting where the students will find out not only what you think about x and y but also what you are like in some strange and intimate way. They'll get a sense of how thoroughly you prepare, of course, but, even more, they'll see how you respond to the unexpected-to the savvy young woman who wants to know whether you're using the term "postcolonial" in a cultural or economic sense, to the curious junior who wonders aloud why Don DeLillo gave the name Simeon Biggs to a snappish African American character in Underworld. For such moments, you simply can't prepare-except by accumulating years upon years of teaching experience and weathering night upon night of anxiety dreams.

Because on that first day of class, truly anything can happen: your students aren't going to love you just because your last three semesters went well, and it's a fair bet that none of your undergraduates (and almost none of your graduate students) will have come back from the summer freshly impressed by how deftly you handled that ludicrously unfair book review in the June issue of Crank Quarterly. Amazingly, none of your students will arrive on the first day having heard anything you've said to other students over the past twenty years; amazingly, you'll have to make a first impression all over again, for the twenty-first time. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.