March 02, 2014
snowy is right: some people never learn!
A very cool thing happened last night. I went to a largish party and I ran into a friend of mine that I rarely get to see these days. She is a professor and head of her department at a local University, as well as being a mother, which renders her rather busy. She has very generously stated several times that she thinks I would make an excellent college-level teacher and has encouraged me to investigate this possibility.
I have a master's degree and really no plans to take it any further than that unless college credits suddenly start raining down from the sky. Frankly, it is a miracle and a half that I got that far in school. I don't fit into the "system" very well and it is clearly not designed for hyper-creative folks like me. But, I do love an academic environment and the idea of teaching has a whole different kind of appeal. (It would certainly be better than taking a janitorial position at a local college just to be in the "academic environment." My apologies to all the Good Will Huntings out there---to all the janitors, really--I'm not making a judgment on the custodial arts as much as I am commenting on my own lack of ability to clean well.) So, it is good that one doesn't always need a PhD to teach. In fact, it has been said that sometimes only having the degree directly above the one you teach has its advantages. That's good enough for me!
So, I broached this subject once again last night and asked her if she could direct me to any pertinent information about teaching requirements, etc. We were sitting on the floor on a lovely blue Persian-looking carpet and she was trying to assist her three-year-old daughter in NOT smashing a piece of chocolate cake into its pile. She had to get up and fetch things several times to accomplish this, napkins, new plate, more cake, etc. and it was kind of loud because there were a lot of people there; so our conversation was a little disjointed. But, I did manage to catch the most interesting piece of information she had to share and it was this: she believes she has a teaching position she could offer me right now. I was kind of taken aback, but flattered.
The key piece of information: what would I be teaching?
Her answer: Critical Thinking.
Ok, so now we have to back up about three days. I am riding in a car with a boy. A boy I happen to like very very much--to the point of discomfort. We were going to the hardware store--all of my romantic fantasies fulfilled--what girl doesn't dream of the hardware store? We were talking in his car (kind of--we have the habit of getting into "heated discussions" which end in strange insults and threats, as if we are in the fifth grade. Honestly, I am not sure I rate above an eleven year old in the romantic relationship maturity department so this suits me fine.) and he brings up the topic of: Critical Thinking. I admit I am only vaguely familiar with this as a discipline--but I am huge fan of logic puzzles and trick questions and will actually engage in them for fun. So I tell him, gimme one of the questions (fifth grade, remember?)! He thinks back to an job interview he had once long ago and relays the issue of the Money in the Umbrella (see my page Who the Fuck Keeps Money in an Umbrella? written February 27th)
I KIND OF fail at this question--but in my mind only KIND OF because the first thing I thought was actually accurate, just not the first thing I chose to say. . So, I demand another one (fifth grade remember?). He complies. I am determined to look as smart as possible so he will like me as much as possible so I really screw up my face in concentration as I try to look through and around and underneath the question--searching for what the question is actually about.
He says, "Three people are staring at you, wondering why you haven't said anything yet!"
I bark, "You're not three people!"
He says, "It 's a four hour interview, they don't have time for this!"
I say, "This isn't an interview! Let me think! You're trying to mess me up!"
He says, "No, I'm not--but your going to lose them soon--you have to say something!"
So my mind zooms back to the first question and I recall that the first thing I had thought actually fell into the "critical thinking" category. So I blurt out the first thing I had thought about the second question.
He barks at me, "You don't have the resources for that--it has to be something else!"
This at least tells me I was in the critical thinking "ballpark" because my answer wasn't dismissed with a "WRONG!"
So, I scrunch up my face for more critical thinking, and my little brain is overheating, and he's saying stuff, and I want him to like me, but he's bugging the shit out of me, and he won't let me think so I just blurt out the dumbest answer ever.
Now, I am pissed because he has thwarted my chance to look intelligent in front of him and who cares about him anyway and here we are at the hardware store so fuck it. I do need to know what answer he gave, though, and he tells me as we are walking into the store. I see that I was not approaching the question correctly at all--at least not correctly for critical thinking.
I instantly become determined to be more prepared should this subject ever arise again, with or without him. So, that night I do some research into Critical Thinking and try to get a handle on it. It is interesting and I make a mental note to investigate further when I have time. I write my page "Who the Fuck Keeps Money in an Umbrella?" and a couple days later I go to a party and my friend asks me if I want to teach a course on Critical Thinking.
This, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
We'll see what happens.
Critical Point on Critical Thinking: This friend of mine, the Professor, knows me very well. She knows my strengths and weaknesses, she knows how I think and process and dream. So, when I asked her: Do you really think I could do this? and she said, "Are you kidding, absolutely!"
I will choose to believe her.