teaching writing, remembering teaching writing
Writing a lecture on “essay writing” in the off-minutes today. Will deliver it to the first-years on Monday. In America, I never “wrote lectures,” as I played everything, no matter how large, as a seminar. Here, you’re at a podium and the students won’t talk back, even if asked to. And so you write lectures. It feels strangely old-fashioned. The upside is, I suppose, that there’s a chance that the work that I’m doing today will last me for the remainder of my career, some thirty-two or so years if I stay at my place (and I might!) and they don’t get rid of manditory retirement (which they shouldn’t!)
Writing this takes me back to my year teaching first-year writing (too posh, the place where I was, for “composition.”) I sat through an endless week of summer sessions on how to teach writing; I was surly; I learned an incredible amount. More than half of what I know about the teaching end of teaching English I learned during this period. It was a big time for me. I got my first job, conceived my first child, came to terms (well, sort of) with leaving Brooklyn, the only place I’ve ever unambiguously loved.
I drove to work from Brooklyn, my little blue VW Jetta Wagon, two or three days a week. It was a half time job with half time pay – still more money than I’d ever made in my life. I had an office in a building that wasn’t the English department, and a primo parking spot in a primo lot. I listened to NPR, day after day, while making that commute. Brian Lehrer. Strangely, I never thought to stay late, extend my stay at the university. Life, from my perspective now, seemed incredibly uncomplicated. I picture fast, clean roads, the view from the bridges that I’d cross on the way there and on the way back. Easy conversations with friends who’d hitch a ride back to the city with me when they were out at the university too. At night, I’d type away at my dissertation, which needed to get done.
At the end, we had the baby, who lived for five weeks in the city of her birth, and then we left. They were filming an ad for Nike on the stoop of the brownstone across the street the day the moving trucks came.