Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence…

The College of Liberal Arts at the University of New Hampshire awarded me one of three teaching excellence awards. They say some nice things about me here:

http://www.unh.edu/facultyexcellence/2011/exc.cfm?image=knowles

 I think in my head I’ve always downplayed my teaching. Part of me has always thought, I’m teaching until I break on through (to the other side) and get that big advance and buy a private island and tell everyone to pound sand and laugh like a crazy person as I wave my fat wads of cash about willy-nilly and light cigars-most-foul with hundred dollar bills.

But in reality, this is what I do. I’m grateful for my job. I do the best I can at being a good teacher, at least. I work with nice people. My students are really smart. A lot of them are way smarter than me. Way smarter. I often have rocket scientists in my classes. Actual rocket scientists. And bio-chemists. And future business titans. And people who will grow tomorrow’s crops and nurse tomorrow’s sick and counsel tomorrow’s troubled and write tomorrow’s books.

It seems so odd that I get to teach writing. There’s so much I don’t know about writing. Sometimes, I wonder if I know anything at all. You sit down at the blank page. You find a creative space. You stay there till the page isn’t blank any longer. You revise. What else is there? The students who said (in the interviews) that they came away from class as changed people…I don’t know what that’s about. I hope it was good change. I hope their parents don’t hate me for encouraging their children to seek a life in words (dooming their potentially prosperous, fabulous, wealthy, rewarding careers).

I’m very appreciative of the folks in the English department who nominated me and said nice things about me and my teaching. I’d like to thank each and everyone of them for allowing me to steal all their best ideas for use in my own classroom. And now you’ll have to excuse me… I have some papers to read and some books to recommend. It is, after all, my job.

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