Sunday, May 13, 2007

Pomp and Circumstance

I've been teaching mostly intro-level courses lately; a combination of departmental needs, the schedule-juggling brought about by widowhood and single parenting, and various other factors. This means that the current graduation ceremonies are relatively free of emotional entanglements for me; I know only a few of the graduates well, and have been surprised, in fact, by the number I don't know at all.

But in a small ceremony to celebrate their graduates, I received an honorary citation from our campus GLBT/etc. community, and got to listen to a lovely speech by a student I've worked with several times. The speech was lovely in part because the student writes well, speaks well, and is in general one of those shy, timid students who just blossoms at a SLAC; it's been a great pleasure to watch this student mature into a quiet "star" on campus. The speech was also lovely because the student said some very, very nice things about my teaching, and in particular the role my matter-of-fact approach to homosexuality played in the student's own coming-out process. Working with texts that present "alternate identities" (I know, I know, alternate to what?) is something very important to me; helping to challenge those normative 1950s values so many of my students bring to college is also a key element of my pedagogy. [So is debunking the whole question of "normal" experience as white and upper-middle class, and challenging assumptions about identity--sexual, racial, cultural--as somehow definitive of one's personhood].

So it was unbelievably gratifying, and humbling, to hear that my work had so much meaning for this one student. I think this is the most important "award" I have ever received for my teaching--or will ever receive.

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6 Comments:

At 7:39 PM , Blogger Snickollet said...

Lovely that you were honored in a way that was so meaningful to you. Even better that it happened on or near Mother's Day. I'm sure all of the praise was well deserved.

You and your daughter were on my mind more than usual today. Sending heaps of good thoughts your way.

 
At 10:14 PM , Blogger Julia said...

Congratulations on an honor that was clearly well-deserved. There is nothing better than to see your teaching bear the fruit you intended. Congratulations again.

 
At 10:14 PM , Anonymous critter said...

De-lurking to say what a wonderful gift you gave to that student and, no doubt,to all those other GLBT students too.

You have such a finely honed sensitivity to the social realities of class, race, gender and sexual identity.

Hope you enjoy the after-glow of that speech to honor you.

 
At 11:05 AM , Blogger Yankee T said...

Why am I not surprised? Congratulations-what an honor, indeed. I wish I thought you taught at my daughter's college.

 
At 11:50 AM , Blogger bg's Little Sis said...

Congratulations, both for the award and for the confirmation of your teaching skills making a difference in a students life, I'm sure that student is just one of many that you touch in a special way through your work. Kudos to you!

 
At 1:13 PM , Blogger Suzanne said...

For the one who says kind things there's usually a lot more who think it but never got to voice it. Well done.

 

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