Friday, September 23, 2005

Inch by inch

Today I got most of a rough draft of the encyclopedia article on Ukraine done. I will finish it tommorrow. It is kind of a mirror image of the one I wrote on Central Asia. Ukraine exported forced laborers to other parts of the USSR and Central Asia imported them. I also made a serious stab at writing the teaching paragraph in my cover letter. I am going to let the draft I wrote today sit until tommorrow and then look at it again. I will probably start sending out applications again next week.


Camicao said...

"I really look forward to teaching general courses in history as well as more specialized ones in my area of expertise. In a survey of modern European history I would engage students by introducing interdisciplinarity through the discussion of key films, works of music and famous paintings. A careful analysis of Picasso's Guernica, for example, as well as Robert Capa's photographs of the Spanish Civil War, helps bring the past to life, and excite students about learning history. In a more advanced, thematic course on Orientalism, I would introduce students to the subtleties of historical thinking by having them read Said's "Orientalism" in conjunction with articles critiquing it, and help them understand the methodological and ideological crosscurrents of academic thinking. As a teacher, I would seek to guide my students to find their own answers, and always encourage them to be independent thinkers."

Otto, you can't pretend you have teaching experience. But you can sell your potential and your ideas. I don't know what the hell I'm talking about above, but the paragraph sounds like many of the teaching statemetns that have come across my desk when I chaired search committees in literature. Surely you can sell your potential, your ideas and your originality. Most importantly, your enthusiasm. If I'm reading your letter of application, I'm looking for a voice I can believe in. A voice I can imagine at the front of the classroom, inspiring students. Your lack of teaching experience may be real, but the issue at stake for your applications is a rhetorical and strategic one. You need to sell yourself in spite of whatever lack of experience you have. You need to make people imagine you as a teacher, regardless of that inexperience. You need to be passionate about teaching despite your lack of experience. You need to communicate confidence, originality and drive to teach and throw caution and insecurity to the wind. You need to go for it my friend,and write about what you would do in your classes. I said would, not what you did. WOULD. There are committees that will take a chance on you if you give them that much. I know I would. And I think my colleagues on past search committees would.

J. Otto Pohl said...


Thank you very much for this encouragement. I appreciate the advice. Yes, I use the word would alot in the teaching section. I am going to go back at it tommorrow. I hope that by Monday I will have something convincing pounded out. It is a lot harder then writing books or encyclopedia articles.