Saturday, September 23, 2006

Teaching vs. Research

Right before teaching my speech class this week, I was engaged in a discussion with another graduate student -- one completing his dissertation. I mentioned that I was hoping to teach several more courses, including a visual rhetoric and maybe even a rhetoric of fiction or theatre course. I love teaching -- a lot more than I will ever love research as defined by the liberal arts.

"No one cares how many courses you've taught," he said. "So, why would you want to teach more than once or twice while you're here?"

Maybe because I think the world is fine without another "researcher" unless we're genuinely going to research how we can improve writing, reading, and the general teaching practices found in our schools. I'm not interested in "liberation" pedagogy, and I never saw myself working to engage another generation in some pointless political campaign that seem to have resulted in worse, not better, political leadership since the late 1960s.

I want to teach students how to write, speak, and think. I object to the notion that good thinking inherently leads to leftist beliefs, postmodernism, and relativism. I'm getting pushed further and further away from "tolerance" the more I learn how intolerant of most Americans and Western Culture my colleagues are. Then again, they think we can reason with violent radicals opposed to the very liberal ideals Western Culture supports.

I'm not interested in reading journals and adding my voice to the cacophony of intellectual morons. I don't care to engage them, since they aren't likely to pay any attention to me or my experiences. I am already dismissed the moment I object to Marxism. How can I not condemn capitalism, Christians, Jews, the Greeks and Romans, and all things American? What's wrong with me?

And now I say I want to teach? What kind of nut am I?

Of course, if I were a New Age yoga practitioner with "Peace Now" bumper stickers, it might be okay if I wanted to teach. Then, I'd certainly mention my political beliefs and save the world. Of course, then I would also love sitting around reading journals with theories and "science" proving my opinions. I'd be rushing to write about the amazing experiment that is my classroom.

I'd rather stick to traditional ideas and notions of writing, speaking, and public expression. Teach? A radical like me?

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