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27 September 2012

Worth Reading

Last year, before I was off a semester, I was a happy student. I loved being in school, and  I enjoyed discussing the ideas in the different classes included in the BA of English programme here at the University of Belize, central campus.  There were many highlights of the semester, but I was specifically fond of taking classes with Smart Teacher.

Smart Teacher is a great teacher.  He is on of those teachers who understand the balance between stability and creative teaching methods.  Each class I took with him was fun, engaging, and made writing about the topics purposeful.  Smart Teacher taught students to think.  Because of him, I can identify reasons why it is important to understand the different perspectives of the slavery system in the Caribbean, and how no single perspective can be absolute in a work.  It was not difficult to do well in Smart Teacher's classes.  You just and to be willing to be challenged and think out of the box.  He was is a stable teacher, so once you show to his classes and actually think, any student can do well (unlike other teachers who often cancel or postpone classes and you never know when or how you stand).

Towards the end of the semester, Smart Teacher did something I never seen before. He brought in a past student's work as an explain of the end of semester work.  We went through the student's work, pointing out the strengths and weakness of the different part of the work.  Ironically I knew the student as Classmate.  She was a teacher in the high school at Sacred Heart when I was a Junior college student.  She also finished her BA in English Education at the of my first semester at UB. We worked together on a research and we were chosen to present in at the two part Belize-Mexico AMLA Symposium that took place both in Belize and Chetumal, Mexico.  Unfortunately, because Classmate was finishing her degree and eager to get back to work, she did not present with me (I did mention her though).

Using Classmates work did two things for me.  First of all it took the overwhelming element out of doing  the huge assignment.  I think Smart Teacher was really smart in doing this because the assignment was big and technical and well, we were only given a short time to do.  For me, it was a psychological trick... if Classmate could do this, and do it well, so can I. Classmate was a real person, not just a textbook example. Unsurprisingly I did the work and I did well with it.

The second thing this method did for me, was impress me.  I was jealous of Classmate!  I wanted my work to be used as an example to the class.  This set me on a self -reflection that lead to the following conclusions:

  • While working in BENG sometimes I do what I call "kiss butt work". (Sorry for the crude phrase).  This means, some times, I write a paper or do an assignment, mostly to get a grade.  I tell the teachers what they want to hear and I basically work purposelessly.  Beloved calls this work garbage, he hates when I do this, although he understands that some times to survive with the resource and time constraints, a girl needs to do what a girls needs to do
  • I write entirely too much "kiss butt work".  
  • In order to have work mentioned, you must do work worth mentioning.
  • I must guard against "kiss butt work" and aim to do work worth mentioning
  • Work that is worth mention is work worth reading.
Since then, I took a semester off. Now, nine months later, I am in back in school faced with my resolution.  Is my work worth mention? I ask myself this every time I write. Even if I am writing while Beloved is making breakfast an hour or two before I have to head out the door to commute to school.  I have done well so far. On top of that, I have fallen in love with writing again!  Ideas dance in my head and the novels yet to be born are the twinkles of my eyes. 

"Whatsoever you do, do with as unto God not man"

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