reflections as the end of this teaching semester nears

Monday, April 11, 2016

Maybe it's because I lead but one class during the one semester at Penn that teaching carries, for me, such weight. I begin planning for January in August, often earlier. Choosing the books we'll read, plotting our course, interacting with potential students. I pack as much into every class as our allotted hours allow. Pressing in with ideas, exhortations, readings. Bringing guests like George Hodgman (via Skype), Reiko Rizzuto, Margo Rabb, A.S. King, and Trey Popp into the fold. (Next year we'll be hosting Paul Lisicky, and focused on the art of time in memoir.) Using multiple media, stretching the idea of memoir, expecting much. Finding the good while searching, too, for all that is still possible.

And, this semester, leading two remarkable thesis candidates—Nina Friend and David Marchino—toward work so extraordinary that, I believe, it will represent their calling cards for years and years to come.

Teaching is standing before a class, then stepping aside. It's managing the ripples and waves while keeping the craft on course.

Three more weeks. And then these students will be off on their own, carrying our lessons forward, glancing back, I hope, not just as writers, but as people who value truth, empathy, conversation, and a greater knowing of themselves.


Victoria Marie Lees said...

Lucky them! Lucky all people who cross your path either on social media or in person. Thanks for all you do.

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