Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Asking the right question about prep school teaching.

As I mentioned in earlier posts, the decision to jump from the tenure track to prep schools is not always an easy one. As I have discovered to my peril, this is true from a practical perspective (I tried to jump but my feet seem glued in place) but emotionally as well.

The question to which I kept returning is, "Do I really want to teach at an independent school?"

I took this question to my dad, who recently retired after thirty years of teaching English at an independent on the East Coast. He knows the job, he knows me - who better to consult? He wondered if I was asking the wrong question, and suggested that the question I need to ask is, "Do I want to teach at this independent school?"

While this may serve as a testament to my dim-wittedness, I was floored. Of course I should not have been - it has been over a year since I rejected the question, "Do I really want to teach at the collegiate level?" as far too broad. I do teach at the collegiate level, but I don't like doing so at Regional State University.

Reframing the question put to rest much of the angst I'd been feeling, for I no longer had to make a huge decision without truly knowing what I was deciding. I could simply make smaller decisions as they presented themselves.

While this change might be a problem in the long-term - what if I never find the right school? - in the short term it is incredibly freeing. An interview no longer engenders an existential crisis, but presents a specific question. So it's not a breakthrough in the search, but it does help with the emotional side of things.

Good luck, us.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good Luck indeed. What ever happened to the job search? Staying in Academia for another year? Looking for a different career alltogether?

Anonymous said...

I, too, would love an update on your prep school search!

Anonymous said...

FYI: Ben found a great prep school position and left academia in 2011!