Mostly (not) on McSweeney's!

A blog for my academic ideas, more or less.

On Lecturing and Teaching


I think the secret is to have notes in front of you but to make it seem as if you are speaking from memory. I am getting better at this. It is good to speak slowly, to let your mind spool an autocue in your head. I actually had AD LIB in the column of my notes today. I knew that I could talk at length on the subject — it was how a US Congresswoman Michele Bachmann exemplifies the Republican appropriation of the rhetoric of the founding documents of America — and so I just had her name and I knew that this would come out naturally. I didn’t know as much about the linguistic strategies of Thomas Paine, though. I knew that this was the weakest section of my lecture. I felt a bit bad about it because I could’ve done more prep for it but I didn’t motivate myself properly over the weekend and it perhaps showed today. Most of the lecture was good, though, so I felt OK. I paced back and forwards a lot. 

I enjoy doing lectures. I avoided doing a postgrad when I finished my undergrad because I thought I would be too embarrassed to do teaching. I am a very different person than I was seven years ago, though, so it does not surprise me that I now enjoy it. I actually seem to be quite good at some of it, too. Today I started our seminar by making my students write a pledge of allegiance. This was to test their understanding of the founding documents of America. I only had the idea during the lecture, and I looked up the actual Pledge of Allegiance on my phone while they worked on theirs. They seemed to enjoy the task. They were talking a lot and very lively. The next task did not go so well. They handed in essays today which meant that most of them (but not all and that made me feel bad later about the ones who had done the reading) had not read the Washington Irving short stories that they were supposed to. I tried to improvise by telling them some of the context and what happened in the stories but they did not engage with this. I ended the seminar early. I told them that they have to do the reading in future. I felt deflated and disappointed.


Filed under: teaching

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