Friday, February 25, 2011

Teaching Rewards

There are many annoying things that come with being a teacher. This is a profession that transforms you, and not always in a good way. A teacher is often a person who grasps at any opportunity to offer a lecture.

"Do we have any bread left, honey?" a teacher's partner asks her.

She clears her throat and launches into a lecture on the meaning of bread, its history, and ideological ramifications of its consumption. In the meanwhile, the hapless partner munches on the bread and wonders how he got himself into a  relationship that is an eternal classroom.

At a party, a well-meaning host often has to approach a teacher and tell her, "Sweetie, we are not in the classroom. It's OK not to answer every single question people ask of others."

My mother who was a teacher of mathematics in our country became very used to students greeting her entrance into the classroom by standing up (which is traditional in our culture.) The students don't sit down until the teacher tells them they may do so. One day, after teaching 10 classes in a row (which was a regular practice in the Soviet Union), she walked into a crowded subway car. there were no empty seats, so many passengers were standing. When she saw all those people standing when she walked in, my mother thought she was in yet another classroom.

"Good evening. Please be seated," she announced in a loud teacherly voice. The passengers regaled her with bewildered stares.

However, being a teacher has its rewards. I just received an email from a former student who thanked me for everything I taught her and shared how she is using the activities I presented in class with her students. And they love it. 

When a student feels like getting in touch to thank you long after the course ended, you get the highest teaching reward imaginable. No award for excellence in teaching could beat this great feeling.


el said...

I am curious about the meaning of bread and "ideological ramifications of its consumption". The latter expression sounds menacing to my ear since one most often hears about ideological ramifications of eating meat (global warming, animal suffering, economical priviledge, etc.) In general, imo "ideological ramifications" is usually used to point out problematic things, which ideally either shouldn't be done at all or, at the least, should be limited. Should I restrict myself to dust then? ;)

Now seriously I would love to hear a short explanation, if you could, please.

Anastasia said...

No one has every done this to me at a party but they probably should. :)

Clarissa said...

I wasn't thinking about the actual ideological ramification of bread but I can come up with a list on the spot.

Here is what occurred to me right now. You can read a lot about a culture's history from its attitude to bread. I'm sure that back in Ukraine you heard people say, "Eat with bread!" This isn't something you'll hear in many other countries. When I was little, there were still people around who would almost faint if they saw anybody throw away a piece of bread, even if it was stale. Older people would patently gather all the breadcrumbs from the table and eat them.

These are the people who still remembered the Golodomor in Ukraine in the 30ies, starvation in Russia, the blockade of Leningrad.

Ideological ramifications is an expression that doesn't always mean something negative. Everything is mediated by our ideology. It's inescapable. (These are not my ideas, I'm just transmitting the thoughts of the major theorists of ideology.) Hence, you might talk about the ideological ramifications of absolutely everything: shoes, chocolate, clothes. My students once wrote essays on the ideological ramifications of hair. They loved the idea and came up with brilliant pieces of work.

profacero said...

I wish we could make the students stand up like that here.