On love & reading
I started teaching at the university level in ’79 — that’s thirty years ago. In that time I’ve received thousands of student evaluations through the institutional bubble forms. Sometimes the response I can discern from the forms helps me to make a course better the next time. Sometimes I can merely enjoy the positives. Sometimes I glance quickly and move on. I’m a huge supporter of students’ response (I try to make it part of the course itself, to be sure — but that’s another story) but not a fan of the bubble forms. Anyway, I got one recently for the fall ’08 version of my modern & contemporary American poetry course (my favorite of those I teach), English 88, that positively stunned me. I like it. The comment says merely: “LOVE” (underscored three times) and to the right of that: “this class taught me how to read.” Not literally, of course, but “to read” as in: really, really to read thoughtfully, well, freshly. Makes me happy and proud. That someone would associate love with learning truly to read and a college course. These are not normally three peas in the same pod.