Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Life in School - What the Teacher Learned.

I am so much enjoying Jane Tompkins' teacher memoir A Life in School: What the Teacher Learned. [I bought it 2 years ago and just started reading it over this Christmas break.]Tompkins graduated from Bryn Mawr about 8 years before I did and went to Yale for a PhD in American literature, with a dissertation on Melville. She recounts her struggles as a graduate student and a new professor, through her tenure at Duke, and the new looser way she wanted to teach her classes. She's a big fan of Parker Palmer's spiritual teaching approach. She's very honest about the fear that even experienced teachers feel in front of a class, hoping that the students will like the material, will like the class, will like her, will learn. Maybe I'll recommend this book to our OSU MA graduate teaching assistants, though I know that they already have too much reading. I would want it to inspire and reassure, not alarm them with the rigors ahead. Her writing style delights me. This has been perfect reading all week. Ostensibly, I was hunting for ideas for the 4C's paper on teacher identity formation, but found so much more to enjoy.


Blogger Sara Jameson said...

ps: forgot to say that Tompkins scarcely mentions her husband, Stanley Fish, eminent Miltonist, whose articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education were so witty.

8:43 PM  
Blogger LINDA BARNES said...

You don't have to assign this as reading for the TAs. Just mention it as something they might want to look into later. After all, it took you 2 years to get around to it.

"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear," and "When the reader is ready, the book will show up on the shelf."


4:03 PM  

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