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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Setting an Internal Standard

One guy I know in the field, but who is not my close friend, told me once: "[Blank} was an influential professor for me. He was not at all a good classroom teacher, but he told me not to publish in [journal title] but only in [journal titles.]"

That sounds obnoxious and snobbish, but I'm going to suggest that what a good professor does is not to teach in the classroom in an orthodox way, but to give an idea of what the standard should be. The student should internalize that standard of quality from the example of the mentor's work and basic attitude. At the same time, he or she should also believe that this standard is achievable for the student, that success is possible. He or she should suggest basic techniques and stupid motivational tricks that allow for success, such as I am doing here.

I have certain imaginary people looking over my shoulder as I write. That could be paralyzing for some people, but I view this imaginary audience as my internal standard. Would [name redacted] think this is well written?

{Name redacted] was famous as an encouraging teacher. S/he made people feel great about their work, and won a lot of teaching awards. The problem I have with [ ] is that s/he produced students whose work is not good (according to my own internalized standard). They have that voice in their head, that person behind their shoulder, but what is the voice really saying?

1 comment:

Thomas said...

Thanks for that last paragraph, Jonathan. We live in an age where too many teachers think their job is to encourage people to write (and to publish what they write).