09 October 2009

Week's End

Today I had my last set of supervisions for the week, two very different pairs. Walking back to my bike from the supervision, I felt pretty pleased with myself, and since this is a feeling I don't often have I took a moment to try to figure out why. The answer was: because I had taught. I didn't feel I'd done a particularly good job of it, but just the act of having had to do something, having had to produce and guide a conversation, however unsuccessfully I may have done so (I have no idea how the students felt), made me feel stronger and better about myself. Boy, those people who say jobs give a sense of worth have got it right! But additionally, I had never realised before the extent to which my job contributes to my happiness. Whether simply because I get to talk about literature, or because I have to think on my feet to figure out how to nudge people into realisations, or because I have to make sure certain realisations are got across, I just plain feel happier when teaching is a regular part of my life.

Now, for my afternoon supervisions on Thursday and Friday I go to a creaky old room in one of the older colleges, where the floor is carpeted and there's a nice smooshy chair for me, and a smooshy couch and another smooshy chair for the students. Sometimes the students have sat side by side on the couch, and sometimes they've sat one on the couch and one in the chair. I sit in my chair, and I say things like, "And what do you make of that?" and "What could we deduce from that?" and "Mmm-hmm, interesting. And what would you say is the significance of that?" Watching myself do that both today and yesterday, I realised that this supervision construct reminds me of nothing so much as therapy. Of course, if I'd done supervision first and therapy afterward, no doubt therapy would remind me of supervision, but still... Okay, I never ask, "And how did that make you feel?", but in every other way - the chair, the questions designed to open up thought, the approach that's designed to make the students feel they're discovering but is really pointing things out to them (with varying degrees of success in subtlety)...it's all therapy. I'm a literary therapist!

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