From Jordan Davis on poetry and teaching via Josh Corey
This is a basic pedagogical problem. Teaching is not really a job, or anyway, it ought to be compensated on Equity or SAG scale — the people who do that job are actors. The ones who communicate their enthusiasms model how to make thoroughness and lively interest come naturally. The indifferent ones euthanize their subjects. I imagine there are some subjects impervious to drill-n-kill, and I’m pretty sure I “came to poetry” via a French teacher who was outright hostile to verse and claimed to teach it only to meet the requirements of the AP exam. Ne’ertheless, I keep wondering what if even just ten percent of poetry MFA recipients taught high school English. Would all these post-rational neo-Slovenian wandering souls have an effect on teaching itself? would the day to day requirements of focusing a group’s attention change the poets’ work for the better? Most importantly, would we get to see hot young actors and actresses playing poets (link) in inspiring films? Anyway.
You know, what killed my aspirations to teach was the fact that an English teacher can’t pick what books to assign to students, or to allow students to choose their literature based on a topic.
For better or for worse, teachers should be allowed to be themselves. I can’t see how this wouldn’t be beneficial to the Teachers, the Students, and to Education in general. There are too many puppeteers in Education–or at least in American Education.
But this is what’s cool about my job: I can use what I wish. Come Contemporary Fiction in the Fall, its hypertext, V, some cool SciFI, and Borges.
I was always under the impression that to get to your level of position requires a certain amount of time served at the high school level :-) It’s either that or you become someone like Tolkien (or Indiana Jones) and are given an honorary position based on your experience and knowledge in the field as appropriate.
It’s very probable that I am grossly uninformed of the path to the kind of freedom of teaching that a college provides. The path I’m on is the one that several notable (screen)writers also have taken: success in the art, then mentor in the classroom.