This evening I met with a local bookgroup, something I haven’t done much lately. These requests come in cycles, it seems. This group was mostly teachers, women between thirty and fifty-five, well read and prepared with lots of interesting questions. It was very pleasant, and I left feeling nostalgic for the days when I actually belonged to two different bookgroups.
Except bookgroups never work for me. I’m way too opinionated, and unwilling to read things that don’t fall into my sphere of interest. I suppose a bookgroup is too much of a busman’s holiday for me, and thus will never work, no matter how much I like the people involved. Maybe I could start my own group, anybody willing to read the books I put on the list — but then there’s another name for that: a classroom.
I’m not nostalgic for teaching and I don’t romanticize it. I do have good memories of a handful of students from my past, and I remember the thrill that comes from seeing a whole group of people — some of whom are resisting — understand something new, all at once. What a phoneme is. The difference between learning language and child language acquisition. The universality of syntactic structure. Epiphany, metaphor, show/tell. There are magic moments in teaching, but I find I can do without them at this point in my life. And while I am a good teacher, when I chose to teach, I am also a strict one, and I don’t think that will get any better with age. In fact, if I kept on teaching I’m sure I’d turn into one of those curmudgeonly old professors with a reputation for being irascible, demanding, but (hopefully) fair. I was well on my way there when I stopped teaching four years ago.
This has been one of those crazy weeks where I’m out doing something every evening. I’m going to see to it such frivolous gadding about stops, and right away. With any luck I’ll be blogging about more interesting topics soon.