metro mama

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Back to School

I’m fully back in school mode already. Happily, after a rotten summer course, I have a course load I’m excited about and profs I think I’m going to love. While I’m enthusiastic about this term, already I’m feeling some anxiety about the workload. I put all the deadlines on the calendar today, and it’s a little daunting.

Tuesday afternoons I have Four Contemporary Canadian Writers. We’re reading lots of works by Findley, Atwood, Ondaatje, and Urquhart. Thursday afternoon is The Body in Feminist Thought, which I think is going to be fascinating. It’s my first philosophy course—I was worried about that but it turns out the same is true for much of the class so the prof is going to give us a grounding in some of the relevant major theorists as we go. It’s the first time the course has run and the professor is really enthusiastic about it. I love that. I also think the subject matter will give me lots of interesting blog fodder—I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday evening I’m doing a course on The Romantics; specifically, we’re looking at Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Byron, and Shelley. I love this prof already. His name is John Unrau. He’s very funny and outspoken; he encourages creativity and doesn’t have much time for critics or theory. This is the last time he’s teaching the course; unfortunately, the suits at York, in their wisdom, are forcing him to retire this year. He has a reputation for being a wonderful teacher and I’m glad to get a chance to learn from him.

I’m really hoping my university experience can end on a high note (this is my last year). I started my degree at Trent, which has an amazing English department. Having to transfer to York is my one regret about moving to Toronto (I would have preferred U of T, but York was willing to give me more transfer credits). At Trent the classes were small and all of the faculty I encountered were dedicated, approachable, and excellent teachers. The same cannot be said of York.

A truly great professor can have such an impact on his or her students’ lives. I’ve had one like this--his name is Zailig Pollock and he taught me Shakespeare at Trent. He encouraged my writing and urged me to rely on my own insight, and not just parrot what I’ve read or been taught. I had to move to Toronto in the middle of the semester and missed some classes. On two occasions, he invited me to his home to help me catch up—we sat in his study and discussed King Lear and Anthony and Cleopatra, one-on-one. I can’t imagine an experience like that at a huge university like York.

If I end up teaching, I hope I can make an impact. I’m not going to do it unless my heart is in it. I’ve been on the receiving end of too many lousy teachers—I don’t want to be one of them.

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18 Comments:

Blogger Mother Bumper said...

You will make an impact. How do I know? Because if you put your heart into it, you've already cracked why there are so many lousy teachers out there. Passion inspires passion. Man, I sound all Hallmarky or something. But I mean it.

I wish my University experience was like yours... I just didn't make the time to put more into it. You are dedicated and it shows.

10:15 AM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

The passion for life and learning you have will most likely lead to being a good teacher.

11:07 AM  
Blogger penelopeto said...

hey, not so hard on my alma mater.
Your courses sound awesome, especially the can-lit one (whose the prof?). I hope you encounter more of the awesome profs that york does have - richard teleky, susan swan, patricia keeney and many others.
and yes, the lectures can be large, but I always found the profs to be available for questions, and the ta's were great.

and if it makes you feel any better, i always went to u of t for summer courses (saved the shlep up to the burbs), and they were never as good - dry, dry, dry.

anyway, i know you'll do great - good luck with that romantics course (scary to me!).

11:14 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

I took my undergrad at Trent too! Didn't love the Romantics course much though... despite Orm Mitchell and his turning me onto Blake. I think it was Shelley who did me in.

2:49 PM  
Blogger metro mama said...

Penelope: the can-lit prof is Elizabeth Hopkins.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

funny...i also chose york over u of t over transfer credits...and it was kind of a mistake...but if i had gone to u of t, i may not have gotten into my publishing program...so i guess it's all for the best... :)

3:37 PM  
Blogger Lisa b said...

I think it is great to be able to have the experience of both a large and small university. Most people don't get that chance.
I personally loved being "just a number" at a big school. Even though I decided not to go I will never forget the letter I got from Trent U with my acceptance. A woman who had graduted in the 60s wrote to me about how she had loved her time there. That personal touch, as you have described, is what the small schools offer. I hope you will find that the big schools have a lot to offer to.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Mary-LUE said...

School. It has been 16 years since I was a student but I love school. I am considering going back for a graduate degree. I hope you have a great semester!

5:38 PM  
Blogger Haley-O said...

I am looking forward to all that "interesting blog fodder"! The course and prof sounds amazing. Good luck with it. :) And, good for you for pursuing your degree. Awesome!

11:08 PM  
Blogger creative-Type Dad (Tony) said...

I've had some great instructors and some crazy ones.
I'll always remember the crazy ones though.

2:24 AM  
Anonymous Kristen said...

I'm excited for you. I wouldn't have the guts to go back.

11:14 AM  
Blogger bubandpie said...

kittenpie - I am SO with you on Percy Shelley. Hate, hate, hate.

12:47 PM  
Blogger bubandpie said...

Oh, and Metro Mama - don't let me put you off the Romantics. I'm a Victorianist at heart and everybody seems to end up being one or the other.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous something blue said...

I hope your courses end up to be educational, rewarding and interesting. I know I'm romanticizing university but I completely understand the perpetual student. To continue learning would be divine.

2:44 PM  
Blogger sunshine scribe said...

Yay you! I hope this year is wonderful and I have every confidence that if you do choose to teach you WILL make an impact.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Mamalooper said...

Can I hide in your Dora the Explorer napsack and come to school with you? Please, please, please....

Seriously, though, if it is possible at all to zoom through the ether the reading list from the Body in Feminist Thought?

As I write this I am listening to the Gloria Steinem/blogger conference call and feeling inspired. Really inspired. And feel lucky to have met some of the local TO bloggers and have the opportunity to read some nonTO bloggers. What a lovely community.

6:32 PM  
Blogger metro mama said...

mamalooper: I agree, it's such a wonderful community. I'll let you know how I like the course. I might post my papers too. I'm going to listen to the conference call soon, while I make dinner.

penelope: a prof (who will remain nameless) described York as something Mussolini ordered on the phone. He also said that people come together and beautiful things happen in the big ugly box. The same prof said U of T is a wannabe Oxford and it just can't cut it.

all: thanks for your lovely supportive comments.

6:42 PM  
Anonymous krista said...

Hey, I didn't realize you were a university student. That is awesome.

9:19 AM  

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