There be dragons!

Monday, June 1, 2009

An exchange with a student

Recently an anonymous student asked me a few questions about the noblest profession. Professing to know something about it, here are my answers.

-What did you specialize in, in your field?
A: English Literature. I got my BA in English and went on to get a Masters of English at University of Dallas. They offered a Master of Arts but that required a language component and a longer essay but I lack the chops for doing a language and was tired of writing at the time. I worked on William Butler Yeats for my junior poet and went on to study Arthurian literature for my BA. My Masters of English concentrated on the work of Charles Williams for which I gave a public reading (like a dissertation w/o as much pressure)

-What made you want to become a teacher?
A: I’ve always wanted to do so. Perhaps it was at first ego – I like talking and hearing myself talk. I also like leading other people to see things and found that what I had to say really was unique (apparently) and valuable (ostensibly). My father was a teacher and the teaching business was somewhat in my blood, but the more I read the more I found that the knowledge had to be transferred to others; the skill sets, the content, and the interpretation. To me it seemed the most honorable course of action to give myself to the education of other people. When first I began teaching I thought that the mere revelation of my great ideas would be enough to sway people (pure ego that, what what?) but as I have progressed in the field I find it is less about me and more about my students – the works presented remain great maugre their ignorance and stupefaction – about getting them to be able to see something more than the world in front of them. Ultimately, too, I like the thrill. There is a certain thrill in engaging in the world of ideas and in getting other people to look at life more deeply. So perhaps I’m just a thrill addict, I don’t know.

-And if you weren't teaching, what could you see yourself doing?
Collecting moss behind my ears and pushing 400 pounds. No, I’d probably be in the publishing business, maybe politics (if I didn’t have such a feeling of dyspepsia and revulsion every time I think about it), or the priesthood; though my wife might object to that last one.



  1. Ah, "The School of Athens."
    Love that one- a remarkable image of the western tradition, and how it encompasses art, philosophy, science, politics, etc.

    Why does history show again and again people making conscious references to the ancient Greeks and Romans? I tried tapping that in my end of the year lecture at Chesterton Academy. There are many reasons, and in five years my opinion may change, but right now I think the driving force is that Greece and Rome are synonymous with "civilization" (however uncivilized civilization can be). The lecture went very well, and the students had a plethora of questions at the end of the lecture. You're right. It's thrilling!

  2. My comment developed into a blog.