What I liked most about teaching this year was that I probably learnt more than I taught, and wrote more than I did last year. I can’t say much about how much of my writing has changed or remained the same. But I did notice a big change in teaching. And I think it has a lot to do with the fact that throughout the year I was experimenting with my own reading. I brought to class whatever I was reading. I would read it and if I liked it or didn’t know whether I liked it, I would take it to class and get the students to tell me what they thought. I wondered if this would work because my rarely sane head kept messing with me.
There is this set definition I used to have of what a good hour spent in class is. I always thought that a good class would mean my ability to lecture non stop for 30 minutes followed by silence and then followed by a hysteria of questions. I have never once been able to do that. It took me 2 years to realise but I am finally here. This deal about taking to class what I have been reading kicks all asses. It’s the only thing that works for me, simply because it opens conversations between the students and me.
It’s not always a good conversation but we have things to talk about and disagree with. What also happens is that conversations seem to continue outside the class too, and more spiritedly. Even so there have been awkward silences within the classroom where we have both run out of things to say. Probably because beyond a point, I don’t know what to say about a text that I have enjoyed reading.
And then there are other classes where none of this happens because I am still helping them settle into ‘Patriarchy is evil’. Minus this, one also has to deal with the burden of students disliking you and this is something I have grown more accustomed to than the canteen biryani in the past two years. Some will love, some will hate, some will not care. I continue to nourish wounded feelings when I see hate in their eyes but it’s still not big enough to hold me back. When I am clouded by their stoic faces, I only have to think about my table in the department and that huge ass window behind it, and my new found ease with reading to remember how happy I am.