One of the constantly surprising and wonderful parts of teaching, now that I've been at it for, er, well, since Clinton's first term anyway, are the occasional students who stay in touch after the class is over. Usually contact is limited to an occasional out-of-the-blue postcard sent from Gettysburg or Seneca Falls. I love these postcards, and have a small stache of them - they prove to me, during the dark tea times of the soul, that I've managed to make something about American history come to life in a powerful way.
Every now and then, I'll stumble into something more constant. One student (now a history teacher) shares my taste in novels, so we swap reading suggestions. Another comes through Indiana once a year and insists on taking me out for drinks and dinner.
One student, the only one to whom I have ever suggested graduate work, asked to read Chapter Two. He called to chat yesterday, raising some great questions and even throwing my suggestions to him back at me. Conversation then turned to Chapter One. "Oh," said I, "it's a mess. The ideas are there, but badly organized. It needs some serious revision before I'd let you see it."
"Really? Oh. Well, I'd love to see it when you can. Based on what you've said in Chapter Two, I assume that you explain Historical Event X and Historical Trend Y and their connection to your topic. I just read a great book about Y and saw a documentary on X, and they sound very interesting."
My advisor (may he live forever) agreed with me that Chapter One was a promising train wreck and should be ignored for a while and allowed to percolate, as neither of us had a clue how to fix it. Did explaining Event X and Trend Y and their connections ever occur to us? Nope.
Said former student has just secured a place in the acknowledgments.
The cold that arrived on the 13th of January is still with me. No, I didn't use the pills, syrup and batteries to make methamphetamine, though that might have been a more effective use.
Words Written: none, but I'm pretty psyched to tackle #1 again!
Lessons Graded: twenty-nine