Monday, October 22, 2007

Oh, you thought the WHOLE meme was done?

No, no, no. That was just the first question. I'm going to answer the rest, but I'll do it all in one post. Promise.

Here are Bon's other questions, poor neglected questions:

2. If you had to go back and re-do one thing in your entire life history, what thing would it be? Why?

This is a hard question to answer in public. But here goes.

The thing I've chosen does not seem to have had a disastrous effect on anyone's life, but it is the one thing that I continue to feel ashamed about and wish I'd had the maturity to do differently. If I knew then what I know now, I would not have moved in with John when I did. I think it was the wrong decision for Bailey's sake. In hindsight, and as a mother myself now, I can see that living together as boyfriend and girlfriend--not as a married couple or even an engaged couple--did not ensure a solid, secure home for Bailey. As I said, I don't think there were disastrous effects, especially since our relationship lasted and ended in marriage, and Bailey wasn't hurt by a break up between us. But I know now that a young child's emotional life is too delicate to risk and that living together didn't create the best situation for her.

3. There is a big, splashy Hollywood movie being made of your life. Who will play you?

Do I choose based on looks? Personality? Admiration? I'm not sure, so I'll do all three.

Looks kinda like me (or so I've been told): Juliette Lewis (I know...I know...)

Acts kinda like me: Jennifer Aniston. She's pretty goofy, seems fairly real and true to herself, and she has a streak of funny, too.

Admired by me: Meryl Streep is the greatest, but she's a bit seasoned to play me. I'll go with Toni Collette. Love her. And I can see her in the role of Ashley.

4. There is a gritty, indie-style mockumentary being made of your life. Who will play you?

Kate Winslet. She does indie films sometimes, yes? She's got some meat on her bones. She's got a dry wit and an honesty in her performances and her personality. I really admire her, on film and in interviews I've seen. In fact, maybe I'll send her a letter giving her first dibs on playing me in the sure-to-be-written-one-day-probably-a-big-hit indie film about my life as writing instructor and Good stuff.

5. I haven't been a reader long enough to know much about the teaching part of your life. Why did you choose teaching as a career, and what primary challenges and changes do you see in education today?

I chose teaching because I love school. I didn't want to leave college, and when I finished my graduate degree, I didn't want to leave grad school. If I could make a career out of being a life-long student, that's what I'd do. But since students spend rather than make money, I decided to be a teacher on the college level, to stay in the academic environment, to be around the books I love, to work in the realm of ideas. The schedule is good for the soul, too. There's enough change to feel periodically refreshed; I have enough control that I feel empowered and inspired; the work hours are not traditional and somewhat flexible. I love having December off to relish the holidays. I love having the summers off to relish my children.

And it has turned out to be the best decision I could have made to prepare myself to be a working mom. The college where I work is small, and my department is close-knit. The current department head (and all the others I've worked under) does everything in her power to make my schedule amenable to mommydom. I teach two classes a semester, two days a week, and they are alway within a couple of hours of each other, so I can be with my children most of the week, but still have a career that I love, one that fits neatly into my life and leaves me completely happy and challenged and inspired.

I could write another post (don't leave! I won't!) about the challenges facing education, but I'll focus only on the one I've been thinking about lately. I'm not sure what elementary and high school teachers see, but I find my students woefully lacking in resourcefulness. When they hit a road block, if the first search statement in their research doesn't pan out, if a printer runs out of ink when a paper is due, they throw their hands up in defeat.

I've never had a student who had computer problems come to me with a hand-written paper; I get only sob stories. In my day...well, really, if I'd lost a paper in college or couldn't get it off of my word processor (yes, those machines that were only word processors, where you'd type on a tiny screen and then the machine would type it up for you), I would have found a way to re-do it, to get it in. I never would have had the nerve to turn up empty handed.

I wonder if the inability to work around difficulties comes from the way we (have to?) shelter our kids now. There is no more running around the neighborhood till all hours, fending for yourself. Adults are all up in kids' business all the time. I think that's changing the way children grow up, possibly weakening their character. At the very least, it's sad. I hate that my kids will miss out on the adventure of childhood. There is very little adventure left for them.

Okay. Done. I know no one will ever send me a meme again, and I can accept that. But thanks, Bon, for the blog fodder. I really was inspired by that first question, and I love that I had the chance to stop and reflect on all four of my beasts.

I've posted a picture of myself, too, since I don't think I've shown my face yet. That's Mitch and Paige in the photo with me.


Aliki2006 said...

I so hear you on the teaching/what's wrong with students today point. I can't imagine ever having gone to my prof *without* my paper and some sad excuse about a jammed printer.

LitTeacher said...

Did I make you feel self-conscious by my last comment on your last installment of that last question? I didn't mean to--I was kidding!

I totally agree with your comments about lack of resourcefulness in students. I'm seeing it every day at the high school level. The simply won't go the extra mile--at least not until pushed. If a question is too hard, it goes unanswered, but they get upset when they don't get credit for the assignment. If they can't find information via google search, they're pretty much done. If they forget, they want an extra chance, if they don't finish a test, they want extra time, if....well...I'll stop, but you can fill in the rest.

Can you tell I'm feeling a little cynical today?

And I love Toni Collette as you.

Bon said...

man. anytime you want meme questions (ie, an entire month of writing fodder), you just call me. ;)

i had one of those word processors! it got me through university, bless its little heart, though it did die at a few unopportune times. at least once i actually showed up with only notes for a paper, because i was a notorious save-the
essay-til-the-last-minute type and if the processor blanked at 3 am, i was, quite simply, screwed.

but having learned resourcefulness (and not putting things off) as an adult, i wish i'd gotten there earlier. and i'd like to encourage greater resourcefulness in my students and in my children.

any ideas how? ( fodder for the next month!)

cbh said...

i have a few students who as soon as i put anything in front of them, before they even look at it, they say, "ms. h, ms. h, ms. h" and are calling me over to them for help. usually i just remind them to READ THE DIRECTIONS! arrrhghgalkjdf

Jenny from Chicago said...

Great post. I like what you said about your "take-back" very insightful.

slouching mom said...

Love love love Toni Collette.

And that picture of you is adorable!

IMHO, kids aren't resourceful these days because their parents never allow them to be independent.