::dons surgical mask::
::grabs dust mop::
DIE DUST BUNNIES!!!!!
::a cloud of dust erupts as the killer mutant monster dust bunnies are swept out of the blog::
Phew. I’m ba-ack! 🙂
In my defense, it was a hell of a summer and I never promised to update regularly. 😛
The title for this post is from C.S. Lewis’ novel of the same name and it is brilliant. Read it, if you haven’t. The title seemed appropriate for this post. I have literally spent weeks trying to figure out how to put this into words as all the thoughts kept being a whirlwind in my head, refusing to coalesce into coherency. I finally found the key in the words of one of my friends (you know who you are):
Don’t let your passion and creativity take backseat to your image.
Why is this so forefront in my mind right now? This semester I took a class on teaching and pedagogy. It was, I kid you not, the most valuable class I’ve taken in the course of this degree. It stretched my mind and gave me a vision for what I want my own teaching practice and classroom to look like, and gave me so much to think about.* But one of the major things it made me think about is who I am in the classroom. Not as a student, but as a teacher. And it’s not something I ever had to think about before because I just decided to be myself, and that seems to work. My first time teaching research methods I was new, nervous, though I thought the whole thing went reasonable well. The second time around, I decided to have fun with it. I geeked out my slides: every week was a different theme, ranging from Star Wars to Doctor Who to Lord of the Rings, which inevitably led to pre/post class discussions on why exactly the Witch King could NOT have broken Gandalf’s staff**, why Peter Capaldi is a bloody brilliant 12th Doctor***, why Thor: The Dark World was NOT the worst Marvel film ever****, etc.
And that one seemingly small change changed the entire atmosphere of the classroom. I was still the instructor, but I was human. Everything was more relaxed. We got the work done, but we had some laughs along the way as well. I loved that semester.
So bringing myself into the classroom with the things that make me me is not something I ever thought about. I learned to do it.
And then we started talking about image in the classroom and the problems in academia in that respect. Do a Google search for “university professor”. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
You see the problem? The image search results overwhelmingly favour older white men*****. While the situation is changing within academia, it’s far from changed over. One of the women panelists who came to class, a young woman in her thirties, gave a talk on how she felt she had to keep the “dancing” part of herself out of the classroom in order to be taken seriously.
STOP. RIGHT. THERE.
I am a dancer.******
I am a writer.
I need both these things like breathing. I was made to dance like I was made to write. They are part of what makes me a whole person, and when I bring the whole person into the classroom as opposed to the person I think I should be it gives me so much more confidence. And I’m a better teacher for it.
*Trust me, that’s another blog post. I’ll get to it. Eventually. Patience is a virtue, people.
**I have no other complaints about the films. They are gorgeous. Stunning. But I will nitpick on that one detail. Fight me.
***BLOODY. BRILLIANT. I LOVE HIM.
****I WILL FIGHT YOU ON THIS. DANCE OFF. NOW.
*****I’d have provided a screenshot but my computer is being stupid and won’t let me. Grr.
******And lemme just say, I spent the entire summer dealing with an injury it only served to make me go HELL YES I AM A DANCER AND I WILL DANCE.