Sunday, September 13, 2009

Inkhat Heeds the Writing on the Wall!

And just like that the first week of teaching had come and gone. I felt, at the same time, more and less overwhelmed. Over the phone I would tell my mother that I was surprised only at the sense of the vertiginous. That is to say, I did not expect to feel as if the world around me had suddenly given a great start and jump and forgotten to take me along. I do find it wonderfully encouraging that everyone around me is feeling roughly the same way. Though I know it’s difficult to admit, I felt reinforced by every personal testimony of confusion and exhaustion. I find I wanted to push those who were confident and thrilled in a very deep well. Nicely, you understand.

I also found that was more worried about teaching after I was done. During the class time I could keep things moving and engaging, but afterwards I would analyze every single moment; everything I said which might be taken the wrong way. It was the damn textbooks that did it. All the assignments for our Teaching English course analyzed in pains-taking detail everything that could possibly go wrong. It had elaborate stories of how simple attempts to reach a class could spiral wildly out of proportion, leading to chaos and the eventual downfall of humanity. As I did those readings I would find things I had actually done and panic. It had worked perfectly well when I tried it.

Of course, this is the problem with focusing on Teaching Theory. In the end it’s very much like lecturing on the physics of baseball then unceremoniously throwing a player on the field with a glove and yelling “Good Luck,” while scurrying away. On an intellectual level, he may understand the game better than anyone else in that stadium, but he probably won’t catch that ball.

But I digress. Let’s digress in this direction: Last night I went to Tony’s, or was it the night before? Night before. I remember. Anyway, I went to Tony’s, (a place which seeks, by its very existence, to define 'Hole in the Wall'), and, in the bathroom, was surprised to see the walls as covered with writing as the English building and coffee shops. There seems to be, in the city of Athens, a drive to write anything and everything; to carve it into table tops, to sharpie it on bathroom walls, to pencil in comments and addendum. It is not unusual to find black boards in bathrooms, a last act of defense by the management to save their walls. Certainly, not all of it is poetry, but a writer can’t help but love a town obsessed; driven to put its self into words. Also, the comics are coming along nicely.

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