So I read this post today on Random House’s blog. I’m not sure I can quite articulate my opinion without the help of some famous online faces.* I’ll quote directly from the article which can be found in full here: David Gilmour on Building Strong Stomachs. Well he’s not wrong, but it’s not the books that are testing my stomach…
* please note all opinions are Alice’s and not the owners of said famous faces. They just accurately represent my reaction. Emphasis in quotes my own.
…usually the University of Toronto doesn’t allow people to become professors without a doctorate. You have to have a doctorate to teach here, but they asked if I would teach a course, and I said I would.
Well while it seems a little… ‘fancypants’ to drop the word ‘doctorate’ so much, it is pretty neat that the University asked him to teach. Usually the term used is just ‘Associate Professor’ though. Because most universities don’t let people without Doctorates be full Professors.
I’m a natural teacher, I was trained in television for many years. I know how to talk to a camera, therefore I know how to talk to a room of students. It’s the same thing.
As someone who has dealt with TV reporters as professors, and later as an instructor herself, NO. NO THIS IS WRONG.
Viewers behind a camera aren’t paying thousands of dollars for you to talk to them like they’re a blank wall. Some things might cross over, enunciation, eye contact, etc. But, plowing ahead in a TV voice is not teaching. Teaching is discussing, explaining, altering your approach so that your students can get the most out of the education they are paying for.
Although why anyone would pay for the education David Gilmour seems to be offering is… questionable, as you’ll see below.
I’m not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories.
‘As a woman writer’? I didn’t know we had a genre to ourselves. Wow, neat! I can use my Lady Pens to write Lady Stories.
Why bother qualifying Woolf as a woman writer? Hasn’t he read her essay ‘A Room of One’s Own’? Maybe it’s because…
…[Woolf]’s too sophisticated, even for a third-year class
I read the aforementioned essay in grade 12. I also read Chekov and Tolstoy in grade 11, Flaubert too (admittedly in English, but we did read Candide and ‘The Outsider’ in French). If he’s finding it ‘too sophisticated’ for his third year students, perhaps I can point Glimour back to his previous statement about how he believes teaching is like talking to a camera.
But wait until you see what he does like to teach…
…they can understand the differences between pornography and great literature. There are men eating menstrual pads, and by the time my students get to that they’re ready. Roth has the best understanding of middle-aged sexuality I’ve ever come across.
Yet Woolf is ‘too sophisticated’.
I teach only the best.
I think we’ll just leave this with a minor correction:
Gilmour teaches what he thinks is the best. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go write my Lady Stories in my Own damn Room.