Taught my last class of the decade this past week. It was a difficult term in some ways. My body gave out a lot and got in the way of me getting as much done as I wanted to. I had a number of other (too many) projects I was trying to make some progress on while teaching. So I’ve been scrambling a bunch and I need a bit of a break.
This said, I learned so much working with the students in my undergrad and grad historiography and methods courses this fall. I read things I’ve read before, seeing and thinking about them in different ways, and we worked together through texts new to me that gave me all sorts of things to chew on into the sunset…
Last night, I attended a gathering for the 2019-20 History Honours cohort at my colleague Jeremy Brown’s lovely home. Such a treat after a long 13 weeks! At some point during the term, I expressed some exasperation re: what people assume I do and/or want to talk (at me) about when I tell them I’m a French historian. I’ve said this kind of thing before and will say it again. The group took note, giving me the most amazing gift to prove it, and to remind me of our time together in HIST 300. It warmed my heart and messed with my eyeliner and I love it.
Last week, artist Milo Groundwater visited HIST 300 to work with student groups to render their designs for five $2 bills addressing silences/absences in Canada’s national narratives, memory & symbols. We celebrated these “Applied Historiography” projects during our last class session on Nov. 27th. See & learn more about the assignment and the students’ completed designs here.
I think I will write something on the “good enough teacher” borrowing from/ripping off D.W. Winnicott. I’ve been doing this for years. Some class sessions are great. Some don’t work. Some feel awful. Every time a sense of failure hits, it hits as hard as ever, harder even, maybe because I’ve been doing this for so long.
I’m going to think of what such an essay might hold. I think it might help me to write it. And maybe reading it could be helpful for other teachers who struggle with caring and worrying and being hard on themselves when things don’t work out. And maybe even sometimes when they do.
“You’re playing against what an audience knows, what they expect. This seems to be true of all performers; there’s baggage that gets carried into the venue that we can’t see.”