Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lead Us Not

I have worked at Small College for a long, long time. Since 1989, if the commemorative clock I was presented on my 20th anniversary of joining the administration is any indication. (Although that clock doesn't keep good time, so I'll let you draw your own conclusions.)

Anyway, over the course of that career I have taught only two classes. Two, which is fewer than the workload of your average first-year graduate student.

"Why, MomQueenBee!" I'm sure you are saying at this very moment. "Why in the world have you not taught more classes than that? You are undoubtedly BRILLIANT. You are without question LEARNED. You are the CUPCAKE QUEEN. Why has Small College not taken advantage of your brilliance, learning, and royal status?"

Well, it's like this. I am a horrible, horrible teacher but I didn't realize this until I tried to teach.

Many years ago the professor who taught public relations took off for greener pastures right before the fall semester. The dean managed to find fill-ins for her other courses, but the public relations spot remained unfilled and the dean knocked on my door. Would I be willing to adjunct this course?

Sure! I'd love to! After all, I'd been working in public relations for a long time, and I was pretty good at my job. I imagined myself dressed in Socratic robes, sitting under a tree with adoring students hanging on my every plummy pronouncement.


Did you know that if you sit under a tree in Kansas during January you're more likely to get frostbite than adoration? That's a fairly stretched metaphor, but let's just say that the class didn't go nearly as well as I had foreseen it would, so I swore I would never teach a class again and I didn't--

--until just a couple of years ago, when once again the dean was in a world of hurt with no Spanish teacher at the start of the semester. After mucho tiempo spent in Costa Rica I'm fluent in the ol' espanol, so he asked me to take the beginning course. Sure! I'd love to! Let's just say again that it was a muy mal idea.

And still, when I saw the e-mail from a colleague in my inbox this morning my pulse quickened. An adjunct is needed to teach public relations next fall--do I have any suggestions? And my first impulse was to say "Me! Pick me!" Then I smacked myself in the forehead and replied with the names of several trustworthy professional public relations folks with whom I've worked.

I truly regret that I am not a born teacher. My father was, and 70 years later his early students remember what they learned in his classrooms. Much Older Sister is, and I've seen how she influences young lives and advocates for her profession. But me? I'm the one students remember as "brought doughnuts to fill time." I simply do not have the natural ability to teach, nor, frankly, the burning desire to acquire the skill through hard work.

So I'm providing contact information for public relations professionals to my colleague, and wishing her good luck in the search for the next Socrates.

Because that person ain't me.

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