Friday, July 25, 2008

Piles of Books & Puppets

The stacks of books lying around the apartment have been slowly growing and may become ridiculously numerous in the very near future as I just learned on Wednesday that I get a 50% off discount at the used bookstore I've been working at. Above are a few of the treasures I grabbed as soon as I found out about the discount. Among them are The DNA Dimension by Carol Matas, The Dying Earth by Jack Vance, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (a total perv, by the way), The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, and a Longman anthology of world literature.

Carol Matas is an old favorite. I still remember clearly the day in fourth grade when I pulled The Fusion Factor (disregard the "with reservation" comment at the end - even at 9 years old I had no difficulty comprehending the utter horror of nuclear war) at random off a shelf in my elementary school library. Along with Roald Dahl's The Witches and C.S. Lewis' Narnia series, it comprised the beginnings of my love for fantasy and science fiction. The Dying Earth has been on my Amazon WishList for so long that I can't remember why I added it - I think I was reading about great sci-fi classics and came across it. Hopefully it'll prove to be better then Vance's Big Planet - which I thought had horrible characterization. From what I've read about Faulkner I anticipate loathing The Sound and the Fury, but I could definitely be wrong (I anticipated loving Milan Kundera only to find him totally misogynistic and egotistical; I anticipated hating Anne Michaels and yet now Fugitive Pieces is possibly my favorite book of all time). In any case, I've heard mention of it so many times and have seen it feature on so many high school English teachers' lesson plans/curriculums now, that I've decided to suck it up and give it a try. As for the Longman, I've always liked anthologies of any kind - poems, short stories, plays, etc. And this one actually contains 11 novels/novellas, including The Metamorphosis - which will be my first introduction to Kafka. Plus, I've been reading a bunch of teachers' blogs lately and one, Hipteacher, kept mentioning World Literature classes that she has to teach. Since the extent of my exposure to World Lit in university has basically just been Canadian, American, and British I feel like I should start to broaden out on my own.

I've noticed that since I've started to read teacher blogs, I've begun to become considerably more nervous about the prospect. Previously I was simply worried that I'd be a bad teacher. And still am. But as I'm at least 3 years away from getting into an actual classroom, I'm a long way away from finding out whether that fear will turn out to be justified (but nevertheless I'm preparing a stratagem that I hope will help at least a bit). My new fear is that I won't be well-educated enough to be a good teacher, that all of the other teachers will have had more of a "classical" education then I'm getting in my undergrad degree, that my knowledge isn't going to be well-rounded enough, etc, etc. - basically, the fear that I'm not going to be "smart enough," that I won't be a brilliant teacher, just an average one. I think there are actually a lot of things I can do to counter both of these worries - read more about teaching, for one and do more volunteer work with youth, for another. I've picked teaching after so much indecisiveness and now that I've made a choice I'm going to do my best to throw myself into it.

On Wednesday I was at the store shelving Poetry, Local Authors, Literary Biographies, Prairie Fire, and a bunch of other sections (have I mentioned I really like jobs that involve me going through piles and piles of interesting books?) near the front entrance when a woman and her husband started chatting with me. It turned out they were both English teachers from BC and had dropped in to get some ideas as they're planning on opening their own used bookstore on Vancouver Island. The woman actually doesn't teach in the classroom anymore, but her husband does so she kind of shoved him at me so he could give me some ideas. However, he seemed really shy, and, being tired and covered in book dust, I wasn't in that talkative a mood even though I knew I was in the midst of a great opportunity. I was pretty much standing there racking my brain, trying to think up some intelligent questions to ask. Eventually we talked a bit about BEd's and since I said I was looking at options all over the country and the US, he and his wife recommended Malaspina (now the University of Vancouver Island).

He also said that when he started teaching he was completely and utterly terrible at it.

And since he absolutely refused to tell me why, I deduce that there must be some kind of interesting story behind it.

He's now over sixty, has been teaching for over thirty years, and loves it.

Hearing that a rough start isn't a sign of total doom is good to know.

(The finger puppets are lying out so that I remember to bring them along on Sunday when I go to see a weird Lovecraftian themed Fringe play. You get a discount if you bring your own puppet.)


Lloydville said...

I've never been a teacher but I've had a few great ones, including some that, as the cliche goes, changed my life. With those, it was never a matter of erudition or any kind of teaching skill -- it was that they somehow communicated a faith in me or a passion about some particular work of art, usually a book, which made me realize it was o. k. to feel passionate about books and works of art.

Kids are astonished when adults show passion about anything -- it often embarrasses them, but they never forget it.

Anactoria said...

"it was that they somehow communicated a faith in me or a passion about some particular work of art, usually a book, which made me realize it was o. k. to feel passionate about books and works of art."


Well, I may not be erudite or eloquent, but conveying enthusiasm and passion for books, for learning, for knowledge - that at least I hope I can do.

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