Becoming an effective teacher can be quite painful and exhausting, taking years of trial and error. In The Art of Teaching, writer and critic Jay Parini looks back over his own decades of trials, errors, and triumphs, in an intimate memoir that brims with humor, encouragement, and hard-won wisdom about the teacher's craft.
Here is a godsend for instructors of all levels, offering valuable insight into the many challenges that educators face, from establishing a persona in the classroom, to fostering relationships with students, to balancing teaching load with academic writing and research. Insight abounds. Parini shows, for instance, that there is nothing natural about teaching. The classroom is a form of theater, and the teacher must play various roles. A good teacher may look natural, but that's the product of endless practice. The book also considers such topics as the manner of dress that teachers adopt (and what this says about them as teachers), the delicate question of politics in the classroom, the untapped value of emeritus professors, and the vital importance of a settled, disciplined life for a teacher and a writer. Parini grounds all of this in personal stories of his own career in the academy, tracing his path from unfocused studenta self-confessed "tough nut to crack"to passionate writer, scholar, and teacher, one who frankly admits making many mistakes over the years.
Every year, thousands of newly minted college teachers embark on their careers, most with scant training in their chosen profession. The Art of Teaching is a perfect book for these young educators as well as anyone who wants to learn more about this difficult but rewarding profession.
|Publisher:||Oxford University Press, USA|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||7.10(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Jay Parini is Axinn Professor of English at Middlebury College. He has written five books of poetry, six novels, and three biographies, and was editor of The Columbia History of American Poetry and The Norton Book of American Autobiography. His writings have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Harper's, TLS, and Chronicle of Higher Education. He lives in Weybridge, Vermont.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is part memoir and part reflection on a life centered around teaching. Parini begins with his own journey from graduate student writer to his current tenured position as professor and author. He recalls great teachers that he had throughout his life and why their styles made an impression on him. He also explains the rigors of becoming tenured, and the mistakes he made in trying to do so. He offers advice on what an inexperienced teacher can expect and how to avoid pitfalls and even offers suggestions on appropriate teaching attire.
Parini spends a fair amount of the book discussing ¿finding your voice¿ in teaching. I found it interesting that he believes that you should not necessarily aim for your ¿authentic self¿ that we are encouraged to develop as writers. He believes that when teaching, you are performing, and to some extent you must learn to entertain. At times this may require you to act and not be yourself. He refers to ¿putting on a mask¿ and delivering a performance each time you lecture. On page 59 he explains:
¿The notion of the ¿true¿ self is romantic, and utterly false. There is no such thing¿.A beginning teacher must confront this reality from the outset, dispensing with the idea that there is some deep and true self that has an independent existence, that can be fetched from the heart¿s drawer, displayed easily, without fear, with confidence in its features.¿
Parini dispenses great advice throughout the book, mostly from his own observations. One example he gives refers to a professor he had who was not particularly impressive in the classroom. He would read from densely prepared notes and would often cough or clear his throat during lectures. Despite the dry performance, this professor was wildly popular due to his knowledge and ideas. Parini explains, ¿The main lesson I learned from this important teacher was that content matters more than anything else. You cannot fake the substance of a course, and must always teach from the center of your material, trusting the material to carry the class forward, to stimulate the students.¿
THE ONE main strength of book: One chapter of the book is entitled ¿Nitty Gritty,¿ where Parini gets into the details of preparation, lecturing, and other teaching specifics. Here he has a ¿letter to a young teacher¿ where he guides the novice teacher through handling a variety of challenges, including attendance problems, gaining respect, preparation and pacing of a class.