About a week ago, an article was published on Book Riot entitled “The Joys and Sorrows of Teaching Literature,” focusing on a brief career teaching college English as a TA: http://bookriot.com/2014/08/26/joys-sorrows-teaching-literature/#comment-1568114287
Of course, the title is misleading: the article is only about the sorrows and the thesis consists largely of this: students don’t love reading the way you do, and if you want to keep loving literature you should quit teaching immediately (or better yet, don’t go into the field at all). This young teacher was disillusioned by the incredible disinterest of her students, particularly when she tried to share her love of language and metaphor to students who simply wanted to pass a class. This is indeed disturbing to any teacher in love with his or her subject, but of course not surprising at all: why should students made to take a required class be expected to love it the same way as the professor being paid to teach it (or in this case, the TA)? What bothered me about the article—and I’ve read several like it—is the sense of pervasive defeat in every sentence: you can’t teach literature to students, they don’t care, the profession is full of jargon, so I’m going to retreat into a book club and simply enjoy reading again.