Things I learn when I am learning about teaching

I have been teaching since 2007. I always tell myself that. I have taught the class from hell (300 students in a seminar, who drove even the calmest professors into despair).

I have made long lasting friendships from every class I taught. I always remind myself.  And when I was leaving Egypt, most of the friends who came to bid farewell were students. It almost unnerved a couple of close friends who are much well versed in academia then I am, and have more interesting academic social security networks.

I have had “you had made a difference” written on an attendance sheet once. And I have had a student look at me and collapse and when he didn’t know what to do, he knew I also didn’t know what to do.. but we stayed silent together till it passed. I now still have students I don’t know, I never taught e-mail me for questions. I am ashamed that now I can’t give them the same amount of time.

I have what in the business world is called “experience” ..but I have nothing. 

I have never been a performer. Being in a class room (as a tutor, lecturer, and even as a student) is as same as an experience as me me walking over a wooden planked bridge over the water.. I sometimes suffer from vertigo, do you know? I walk on wooden planks, I go into class rooms, holding my breath till it passes.

I still walk on bridges because otherwise how will you come to love the sea? or see the sky beyond the bridge? And I love going to class rooms (preferably as a student who is not called out to speak, but life assigns different roles), because otherwise how will leave the class room behind and love everything it can create?

To teach is to disarm yourself (forgive a rancierian term used carelessly), hoping that some much more younger person will be kind to disarm as well. And I believe that as you grow younger you don’t grow kinder, unfortunately.

I have always loved office hours and hated the classroom, in the office hours I got to see the notes, and the people, and the questions, and great things happen when you finally see the people you were meant to entertain earlier. So I pay the price of the class room  hoping for a conversation afterwards, out of which something might come into being.

Anyways: these things helped me through out the first two weeks and I am grateful for those who share them (primarily a group of friends and colleagues and seniors who were generous enough with their time), the list should be longer, so there will be sequels.

“Engaged pedagogy” 

“Being at home in the World”

The Alternative Reading list project 

Nicholas Crane posts about his teaching – specially this


Said on being in the academy


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