15 January 2009

Pedagogy, or Why I Have No Direction in Life

Currently, I have no job. Partly this is because I finished my Master's degree and have moved cities twice in the past 5 months. Mostly it is (I think) because I have no idea what I want to do with my life. [note: I feel I should clarify that before I moved to Philadelphia I had two jobs, so the internets should not get the idea that I am completely lazy].

Before I went to England last year, I thought I wanted to go on to get a PhD in late 19th century British Literature. Sometimes I think I still might want to do that, but at several points in time last year (once when I was opening the Kelmscott edition of Sigurd the Volsung, once when I was standing on the landing of the V&A with Anne, watching some museum workers refurbish the cast court collection, and some other times as well) I began to second guess myself about things. I want to learn things, and I want to teach things, but I don't know if I want to be a professor.

So now the odyssey of life. I'm taking some time off to work (if I can find a job--damn you economy!), to learn about new things, and figure out what I actually want to do with the rest of my life.

It's a frustrating task, I think, in part, because actually I know exactly what I want to do in life. I want to bake pies and sew things. I want to read books and be excited about them, and maybe even write books of my own, not for any purpose but just to write them. I want to create bad art and good conversation. I want, in short, this:

Then last night because I couldn't sleep I was reading Lady's copy of 1066 and All That, which has the following to say in the introduction about history:

"History is not what you thought. It is what you can remember. All other history defeats itself."

And the first thing I thought when I read this was, "wouldn't this be a great first day discussion for a history class?" So many great places you could take that discussion: What history can you remember? What is the purpose of history if you can't remember it? What is the purpose of history? What did you think history was before this statement told you differently? Is history self-defeating? How do we remember the history we thought we knew but really forgot? Does history remain history if some people remember it but not all people?

Then there is this post on Historiann about history classrooms, pedagogy, and investigative teaching methods, which also made me really excited about teaching.

There is no point to this post, except perhaps that whether or not I ever get a PhD, maybe I do want to teach and that also I am still of the opinion that occupation is a way overrated way to plan your life. And also that I want to be employed. The End.

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